DEFIANCE, Ohio – The No. 14-ranked Franklin College baseball team closed out a record-setting regular season on Sunday (May 6) afternoon with a pair of conference games against the Defiance Yellow Jackets.
The Grizzlies (35-3, 17-1 HCAC) smacked four home runs and used a seven-run seventh inning to pull away for a 14-8 win in game one. Game two saw the Grizzlies jump out to a big lead early, leading to an 18-6 win to close out the regular season.
Franklin connected for six home runs on the day and saw three program records fall. Frank Podkul blasted three home runs and drove in 10, setting new single-season and program records for home runs. The Schererville, Ind.-native has 14 round-trippers on the year and 27 for his career. Sophomore Ryan Bixler scored four times on the afternoon, moving him into first place for the most runs scored in a season with 62.
Game One | Franklin 14 – Defiance 8
The Grizzlies claimed the first lead of the day when Freed belted a one-out solo home run in the second inning. On inning later, Podkul stretched the lead to a pair with a two-out RBI single.
Defiance would answer with a run in the third and two in the fourth to take their first lead of the day, but Franklin would counter with a pair of runs in the fifth on solo shots from Podkul and Naumovich. The hosts would get both runs back in their half of the inning, taking a 6-5 lead into the sixth.
The Grizzlies put the game out of reach in the seventh, hanging seven runs on Yellow Jacket pitching. Ryan Erlandson stretched the lead to two with an RBI ground out and two batters later, Sam Claycamp provided the biggest blast of the game with his third grand slam of the year to make it an 11-5 game. Podkul added an RBI single, followed by a run-scoring double from Freed to cap the inning.
Freed plated his third run of the day in the top of the ninth, singling home Claycamp to cap the scoring for the Grizzlies.
Nate Stonebraker (3-1) picked up the win in relief for Franklin. The junior allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings of work.
Game Two: Franklin 18 – Defiance 6
The Grizzly offense wasted no time staking Franklin to a lead, scoring four times in the opening inning. A wild pitch allowed Ryan Erlandson to score, followed by a two-run single from Alex Mis and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Brandt Pawley.
Defiance got back within a run with three runs in their first trip to the plate, but Franklin followed up with another four-run inning in the second. With one out in the inning, Podkul crushed a pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run, his first of two in the night cap. Jarrod Smith closed the inning with an RBI single, stretching the lead to 8-3.
Franklin recorded their third four-run inning of the game in the fifth, getting a two-run double from Nick Wright and a two-run home run off the bat of Podkul to make it a 12-5 game. The sixth inning saw the Grizzlies bring four more across the plate with RBI singles from Wright & Naumovich, as well as a two-run double from Podkul.
Bixler added a run with a double in the seventh and Naumovich followed with an RBI single in the eighth to cap the scoring for Franklin. As a team, the Grizzlies pounded out 22 hits in their win over the Yellow Jackets, a single-game best for the 2018 campaign.
Aaron Leming started game two and went three innings before turning the ball over to Ben Sprinkle (6-0), who allowed two hits and struck out one over two innings to earn the win. Jackson White, Alex Reinoehl, Chandler Cardenas and Mitchell Caster combined to work the last four innings for the Grizzlies.
Franklin will now turn their attention to the 2018 HCAC Baseball Tournament, which is set to take place at John P. McDowell Field in Franklin from May 10-13. The Grizzlies earned a bye on day one of the tournament, and will play the winner of the meeting between No. 4 seed Manchester and No. 5 seed Bluffton on Thursday (May 10). First pitch of the Franklin game is set for approximately 3:30 p.m.