FRANKLIN, Ind. – One day after clinching the conference regular season title and home field advantage for the conference tournament, the No. 14-ranked Franklin College baseball team went right back to work on Wednesday (May 2) afternoon. Franklin closed out their regular season home schedule with a showdown against regionally-ranked Otterbein University at John P. McDowell Field.
What transpired was an absolute slugfest, as the two regional powers flexed their offensive muscles for 10 innings. Franklin (33-3) rallied form down by as many as 11 runs to take the lead in the eighth inning with 12 unanswered runs.
The Grizzlies needed another comeback in the ninth to force extras, but a long ball was enough to give the Cardinals (27-10) a 19-18 win, snapping Franklin's winning streak at 13.
After conceding a run in the first, the Grizzlies grabbed the lead when Sam Claycamp smacked a one-out home run in the first, spotting the hosts a 2-1 edge. Otterbein would answer with two in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth before Brandt Pawley brought run in with a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 8-3.
The Cardinals continued their offensive tear with six runs in the fifth, taking a 14-3 lead. But Franklin refused to go quietly, countering with a big fifth inning of their own. Claycamp continued his tear with a two-run double and scored one batter later on Nick Wright's eight home run of the year. Later in the inning, Jarrod Smith blasted a pitch over the left field wall, making it a 14-9 game.
With a runner on in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Bixler brought the Grizzlies closer with a massive home run, easily clearing the scoreboard in center field to cut the deficit to three. Two innings later, the Grizzlies for back-to-back RBI singles from Smith and Frank Podkul to cut the lead to one. Smith tied the game with a two-out RBI double and Pawley put Franklin in front with an RBI infield single, giving the Grizzlies an improbable comeback.
But just as Franklin had done prior, the Cardinals had an answer with four runs in the top of the ninth to take an 18-15 lead. After being robbed of home runs twice earlier in the game, Podkul brought the Grizzlies even with a three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth, clearing the center field wall with ease and sending the game to extras.
Otterbein re-took the lead with a lead-off home run from Pat Birrer and silenced the Franklin bats in the bottom of the inning to close out the contest.
Smith and Wright led the Grizzlies with three hits each while Claycamp and Podkul tied for the team lead with four RBI each. Bixler went 2-for-3 with a game-high five runs scored for Franklin.
The Grizzlies wrap up the regular season on Friday (May 4), heading to Defiance, Ohio for a pair of games against the Defiance Yellow Jackets. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.