FRANKLIN, Ind. (March 28, 2017)- Strong early offense and clutch pitching late led the Franklin College Baseball team to a 9-8 victory over Hanover College on Tuesday evening.
The Grizzlies' offense got going right away in the bottom of the first inning. Freshman right fielder Jarrod Smith and sophomore shortstop Sam Claycamp drew back-to-back walks with one out. After advancing a base on a wild pitch, junior first baseman Frank Podkul drove them both home with a single to left center field to give Franklin an early 2-0 lead.
The offense continued to produce in the bottom of the third inning, extending the lead to 4-1. Junior third baseman Jackson Freed smashed a two out, two run double to the gap in left center field, driving in freshman Nick Wright and Claycamp.
The offense produced a big inning in the bottom of the fourth inning, striking for five runs in the frame. Junior designated hitter Mitch Schuman and sophomore centerfielder Tanner Nicholson drew back-to-back walks to open the frame. Freshman catcher Alex Mis followed with an RBI single to center, driving in Schuman. Smith knocked a double to the wall in left to drive in Nicholson and chase Hanover starting pitcher Tanner Simpson from the game. Claycamp delivered a sacrifice fly to drive in Mis. Podkul reached base after being hit by a pitch. Wright followed with an RBI single to left field. Freed reached base on another hit by pitch and sophomore second baseman Jordan Clark singled to right field, driving in Podkul for the fifth and final run and increased the lead to 9-1.
In the top of top of the fifth, Hanover was able to answer back, scoring six runs in the frame and chase Franklin starter Aaron Leming from the game after 4.2 innings pitched. Sophomore Ethan Adams came in relief of Leming and surrendered a double and a walk before recording a strikeout to escape the jam, leaving the score at 9-7.
The Franklin bullpen was able to hold the Panthers to one run the rest of the way. After a leadoff single in the top of the sixth inning, sophomore Nate Stonebraker came into the game in relief of Adams. Stonebraker was able to pick-off the leadoff runner at first base before striking out the next two batters. Despite allowing a walk, Stonebraker worked a scoreless seventh inning, adding another strikeout. Senior Jacob McMain came on in the eighth inning. McMain was able to escape a bases loaded jam despite allowing one run to make the score 9-8 Franklin.
In the ninth inning, Hanover's leadoff hitter was able to reach on a Franklin error. McMain proceeded to strikeout the side, leaving the tying run stranded at first base to preserve the victory.
Offensively, all nine starters recorded at least one base hit in the win. Wright and Mis each recorded two hits while Podkul and Freed each drove in two runs. Seven different Franklin hitters drove in at least one run as well.
Stonebraker earned the win in relief, the first of his career. He worked two scoreless innings, did not allow a hit, and struck out three Panther hitters. McMain earned the save, working the eighth and ninth innings. He allowed one run and struck out three.
With the win, the Grizzlies improve to 11-6 overall and 3-1 in HCAC play. With the 3-1 mark, the team is currently tied with Earlham College for first place in the conference. The team is back in action this weekend at Earlham College for a three game set. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 4:15 PM and a noon double header on Saturday.