BLUFFTON, Ohio – The Franklin College baseball team hit the road for their first true road games of the year on Sunday (Apr. 8), taking on the Bluffton Beavers in a pair of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) contests.
Tied late in game one, Franklin (20-2, 5-1 HCAC) put the opening game on ice with a nine-run ninth inning in a 13-4 win, running their winning streak to nine straight. Game two saw the Beavers (14-9, 3-3 HCAC) use a late-game rally of their own to steal game two and earn a split with a 6-5 win.
Sam Claycamp had a huge day at the plate for the Grizzlies, recording seven hits and driving in eight runs while crushing his second home run of the year in game one. Ryan Bixler had five hits on the day, which included his fourth round-tripper of the year in game two.
Game One: Franklin 13 – Bluffton 4
Franklin struck first in the top of the third inning, getting an RBI single from Claycamp to open the scoring. Later in the inning, Alex Mis drew a bases loaded walk to plate Claycamp and put Franklin up 2-0.
Bluffton answered with two runs in the fourth, but Claycamp would put the Grizzlies back on top when he smashed the first pitch of the fifth inning for a solo home run. One inning later, Bixler doubled the Franklin lead a sacrifice fly, scoring Jarrod Smith.
The lead would last until the bottom of the eighth inning when Bluffton got to the Grizzly bullpen for a pair of runs to even things up. But the Franklin bats came through big in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Three pitches into the inning, the Grizzlies re-took the lead thanks to a single from Bixler and a corresponding RBI double from Claycamp. Nick Wright followed with a single to make it a 6-4 game. Smith added a sac fly and was followed by a double steal that score Frank Podkul and a single from Brandt Pawley to make it a 9-4 game.
Claycamp put the nail in the Beavers' coffin later in the inning with a three-run double, followed by an RBI single from Quenton Wellington to cap the scoring.
Christian Sullivan struck out eight over 7 2/3 innings of work before turning things over to Alex Reinoehl (4-0), who picked up the win after closing out the eighth inning. Mitch Merica turned in a spotless ninth to close out the game.
Game Two: Bluffton 6 – Franklin 5
Down by a run after two innings, the Grizzlies jumped out in front when Bixler launched a pitch over the wall for a two-run blast. Bluffton would jump back in front with runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Grizzly bats would look to answer with another late game rally.
In the eighth, Claycamp continued his assault on Bluffton pitching with a two-run double that scored Bixler and Jordan Crouse to put Franklin back in front. Nick Wright would follow with an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game.
But the Beavers would counter with three runs of their own in the eighth to re-take the lead. Franklin would load the bases in the top of the ninth, but were unable to get the tying run as Claycamp was retired to end the game.
Aaron Leming made the start for the Grizzlies, allowing eight hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings of work. Reinoehl (4-1) was charged with the loss after allowing three runs in the eighth.
Franklin will have six days to prepare for their next two games, which take place next Saturday (Apr. 14) in North Manchester, Ind. against the Manchester Spartans. First pitch is set for noon.