Early advantages go to warm climate

Bobby Scott, Editor-In-Chief

Pitt-Johnstown’s baseball team started the 2015 season in fashion similar to last year, losing every game they played in the season’s first weekend on the road.

This time, instead of losing three games in two days to the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, they lost four.

The scores also indicate that this year’s games against Pembroke were just as lopsided, but both teams had better offensive performances this time around.

A factor of the outcomes of early season competition in collegiate baseball is the school’s location.

In Richland Township, there has been snow on the ground for well over a month, causing the Mountain Cats to practice indoors until their first game Feb. 7, when they traveled to Pembroke, N.C. to open the season.

“I think there is an unfair advantage to an extent,” junior infielder Nate Negri said.

“At the same time, it is good for us because we get to face teams that know what they are doing, and we get to see good competition.”

Negri has experienced early success at the plate this season, hitting for a .278 batting average with two home runs, which includes a grand slam and six runs batted after four games.

Negri also said that practicing in the Sports Center affects the team’s fielding during games.

“The gymnasium limits us when it comes to fielding fly balls and groundballs,” he said.

“Even distance for throwing during games is a lot different than being cooped up in the Sports Center.”

To make matters worse for the Mountain Cats, they had to play a team from a place where the average temperature is 61.7 degrees Fahrenheit according to USA.com.

Pembroke’s average temperature is three degrees higher than North Carolina’s average. Johnstown’s average temperature is 49.22 degrees Fahrenheit.

Senior infielder and outfielder Mike Palkovitz said he understands scheduling games against warm weather schools puts schools like Pitt-Johnstown at a disadvantage but does not consider it unjust.

“It is definitely an advantage to be from a warm-weather state, but I would not call it unfair,” he said.

“The team still finds ways to get our work in even when we have to be indoors.”

The team will not have to deal with that problem for the rest of the season, as they are to play against teams from as cold or colder states in their upcoming non-conference schedule (Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia).

The Mountain Cats next play this weekend when they travel to Athens, W. Va, to take on Concord University in two doubleheaders.