FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team kept their unbeaten start to the season going on Saturday (Mar. 10) afternoon with two wild wins over Calvin College at John P. McDowell Field.
After jumping out to an eight-run lead early in game one, the Grizzlies (8-0) held off a furious Calvin rally to earn a 10-7 win in the opener. Game two saw Franklin fall into a six-run hole early on, but the Grizzly offense would rattle off 10 consecutive runs to earn a 12-8 win in a game that ended after eight innings due to darkness.
Senior Frank Podkul had six hits, four RBI and his team-leading fifth home run of the year in game one. Ryan Bixler continued his recent tear with five hits and three RBI, giving him nine hits over the three-game series against the Knights.
Game One: Franklin 10 – Calvin 7
Franklin wasted no time putting a crooked number on the board. Nick Wright opened the scoring with an RBI fielder's choice before coming in to score later in the inning on a throwing error to put Franklin up 2-0 after one inning.
The Grizzlies padded their lead in the bottom of the second with a six-run frame. Brandt Pawley brought home Drew Naumovich with an infield single and Jarrod Smith would score on the same play following a Calvin error. Pawley scored two batters later on Bixler's double into the left field corner that made it 5-0. With two down later in the inning, Podkul smashed a pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run and an 8-0 Franklin lead.
But the Knights would start to chip away at the lead with one run in the fourth and fifth innings and a five-run outburst in the sixth to make it 8-7 Grizzlies. But the rally ended there as Bixler drove home two runs with a single in the seventh.
Jordan Clark made the lead hold up to close out the game and earn his fourth save of the year. Clark fanned two batters and allowed two hits over the final three innings to seal the win for Aaron Leming (3-0).
Game Two: Franklin 12 – Calvin 8 (8 inn.)
For the second straight game, Wright opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first to plate Bixler and make it a 1-0 game. After coughing up the lead in the second, Podkul cut the Calvin lead to 3-2 with a run-scoring single of his own, scoring Sam Claycamp and making it a 3-2 game.
Things unraveled for the Grizzlies as Calvin scored three times in the fourth and twice more in the fifth to stretch their lead to 8-2. With their unbeaten streak in jeopardy, the Grizzlies buckled down at the plate and on the mound as they began to mount their comeback.
Franklin opened their half of the fifth with three straight singles, loading the bases for Jarrod Smith. The sophomore would deliver with a single of his own, scoring Podkul to make it 8-3. Pawley cut the lead in half with an RBI fielder's choice and Naumovich came in to score on a wild pitch to make it 8-5.
One inning later, the Grizzlies grabbed the lead back after scoring four more times. Jackson Freed cut the deficit to 8-7 with a two-run double that brought Podkul and Wright home. With two outs and the bags full, Franklin capitalized on an error that allowed two more runs to score and put the home team in front, 9-8.
Calvin loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Nate Stonebraker would wiggle out of the jam, striking out one batter and snagging a comeback liner for the final out of the inning, preserving the one-run lead.
Franklin continued their offensive onslaught as the sun started to set on McDowell Field with three more runs in the seventh. Wright scored on a defensive obstruction play to make it 10-8 while Pawley and Ryan Erlandson added RBIs later in the inning to cap the scoring.
Stonebraker picked up his first save of the year after working two innings of three-hit ball, walking one and striking out four. Alex Reinoehl (1-0) earned the win in his first career appearance, allowing one hit and striking out two over two innings of work.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a mid-week showdown with the DePauw Tigers on Tuesday (Mar. 13) afternoon. The two teams will meet at McDowell Field, with first pitch set for 4:00 p.m.