AUBURNDALE, Fla. – The Franklin College baseball team faced a stiff test on Monday (Mar. 25) afternoon, taking on perennial powerhouse and the No. 15-ranked team in the country in the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks.
Offense was at a premium for most of the afternoon as the two NCAA regional qualifiers engaged in a low-scoring contest. But the Warhawks (5-4) would capitalize on their chances when presented with them and despite a late-game Franklin (9-5) rally, the Grizzlies would fall 6-3.
The Warhawks came through with two outs in the first to plate the contest's opening run. After that, both teams struggled to generate base runners and after six innings of play, the Grizzlies found themselves still down by a run.
Whitewater added to their lead with a pair of runs in the seventh and three more in the ninth. Down to their final three outs, the Grizzlies broke though starting with Ryan Bixler's second double of the day followed by a run-scoring single from Sam Claycamp. Nick Wright followed with a single of his own and Drew Naumovich drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
Alex Mis added a run with a sacrifice fly and Michael Church drove home his first career run with a single, cutting the lead in half and brining the tying run to the plate. But the rally ended there as Jacob Bryant was retired for the final out of the game.
Bixler was the lone Grizzly to finish with multiple hits, smacking a pair of doubles in four at-bats. Krae Sparks (1-2) started the game and pitched well, scattering seven hits and striking out five while allowing one earned run over 6 1/3 innings of work.
Franklin continues their Florida trip on Tuesday (Mar. 26), when they meet St. Thomas (Minn.) for one nine-inning game. First pitch from Auburndale, Fla. is set for 11:00 a.m.