The Goshen College baseball team is riding a four-game winning streak, tallying three wins against rival Bethel College before taking down No. 24 Concordia on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs beat Concordia, 6-5, thanks to a ninth-inning go-ahead two-run home run from Joseph Cerda, bringing the Leafs’ season record to 9-11 (4-4 conference). The win against Concordia is GC’s first non-conference win against a ranked opponent since 2007.

“This team is very exciting to watch and play with,” Cerda said. “There’s never a true moment where you could count us out … There is an excitement around everyone with one another and watching each other grow day in and day out, on and off the field.”

David Lopez, a fifth-year, was named the Everence Student-Athlete of the Week after throwing a complete game against Bethel, allowing a single unearned run in the 6-1 victory. The game was caught by Steven Lopez, a sophomore and David’s brother. David mentioned the special connection he has with his brother on the baseball field, having played together growing up and worked out together the last two summers.

“It was a really special moment for us,” he said. “My mom was sending me clips of the live stream and the announcers [were] talking about both of us. And I feel like that’s really special, not just for us, but like for my family back home … knowing that we’re both here together, playing baseball together and succeeding, it means a lot to them and a lot to us.”

The Leafs’ hitting came alive in the second doubleheader against Bethel, as the team combined for six home runs and 35 hits in the 13-8 and 19-10 drubbings.

Andres Garcia, a senior, has been a key contributor this season. After starting the season as a bench player, Garcia has a hit in 11 consecutive starts, boasting a .421 batting average. He cited team camaraderie, and the presence of hitters like Cerda, Jenner Rodammer and Trent Sillet as key motivating factors in his success as the leadoff hitter.

“This year kind of has been just different from the team level,” Garcia said. “Coach Brad has come in and really helped us … the energy has changed, and I want to play for my teammates here. I think the bond that everyone here has this year is just like a lot stronger than it was last year.”

Brad Stoltzfus, the team’s head coach, can be seen around campus playing intramural basketball or even participating in a hot sauce competition; one of his distinguishing factors is his enormous beard. Going into this year, his first as the team’s manager, he wanted to focus on creating a “family environment” and establishing the baseball team as a “good presence on campus.”

“If we want to be successful,” he said, “if we want to win games, we have to do it together. We can’t be, this guy here, this guy here, this guy here. We have to form that bond. That’s been a big thing for us is to get back to respect off campus, but [also] respect within our team and being good examples and guys wanting to step up and be leaders in respective areas, whether it’s being an R.A. or whether it’s being a team captain.”

Stoltzfus’ philosophy has paid dividends on the field. After finishing 10-38 last season and 11-39 the season before, Goshen’s current 9-11 record shows significant improvement.

Moving forward, everyone interviewed mentioned the same goal; a postseason appearance.

“We want to get into the conference tournament,” Garcia said. “We’re tired of looking from the sidelines. We want to go in there May 1 and just play and give us a chance to play. Anything’s possible, and I think we have a really strong, older, more experienced team that’s … ready to play. Give us an opportunity.”