FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team returned to action at John P. McDowell Field on Friday (Apr. 6) afternoon, hosting the Hanover Panthers for a pair of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) contests.
The Grizzlies (19-1, 4-0 HCAC) ran their winning streak to eight games, taking both games in very different fashion. Game one saw Franklin rally late before winning in extra innings on a walk-off single from Jarrod Smith in an 11-10 victory. Game two was shortened by a mix of rain and snow, but the Grizzly bats dished out a flurry of hits in an 18-0, seven-inning affair.
Jacob Bryant had his first career three-hit game and drove in four runs in game one. Game two saw the Grizzlies bat around twice in the fourth inning, tormenting Panther (4-14, 1-3 HCAC) pitching for 13 runs in the frame. Frank Podkul, Ryan Bixler and Jordan Crouse mashed homers in game two.
Game One: Franklin 11 – Hanover 10 (10 inn.)
Bryant opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, singling home Podkul. Bryant would score later in the inning on a wild pitch and Bixler would work a bases loaded walk to make it 3-0 Grizzlies.
Hanover would draw even with a three-run blast in the fifth, but Bryant would put Franklin right back on top with a single that scored Jackson Freed in the bottom of the inning. One inning later, Bryant collected his third RBI hit of the game with a two-run double. Podkul added an RBI the hard way, getting plunked with the bags full to make it 7-3 Grizzlies.
But the Panthers would counter, scoring once in the seventh and five times in the eighth to take their first lead of the afternoon. Facing their first deficit of the day, the FC bats rallied in the bottom of the inning. Podkul brought Franklin within a run with a sac fly and Alex Mis tied the game with a two-out RBI single. Smith put Franklin in front with a double into the right field corner, scoring Mis and making it a 10-9 game.
Down to their final out, the Panthers would even things up to knot things up and send it to extras. With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Smith poked a ball through the left side, scoring Podkul from second to end the game and give Franklin their first walk-off win of the year.
Game Two: Franklin 18 – Hanover 0 (7 inn.)
The two sides traded bagels through three innings before the Grizzly bats erupted for their biggest inning of the year to date. Podkul started the inning with his seventh home run of the year, starting a sequence that saw 10 straight Grizzlies reach safely. Ryan Erlandson added to the lead with a two-run single to make it 3-0 and one batter later, Bixler doubled the lead with an opposite-field blast.
Smith would add an RBI single later in the inning and Bixler would close out the 13-run frame with an RBI single of his own. Franklin pounded out 10 hits in the inning and took advantage of three Hanover errors during the frame.
One inning later, the Grizzlies added to their lead with five more runs. The big blast of the inning came off the bat of Crouse, who took the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a grand slam and his first career hit.
Lost in the shuffle of the offensive outburst was a strong showing from freshman Connor Morton (3-0). Morton allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three on just 77 pitches, earning his first complete game and shutout.
Franklin will have a day to regroup before hitting the road on Sunday afternoon for a pair of games against the Bluffton Beavers. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.