RECAP | Offense Explodes in Opener as Baseball Splits HCAC Twin Bill with Bluffton

Photo courtesy of Danny Goggans
Photo courtesy of Danny Goggans

FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team stepped back onto the turf at John P. McDowell Field on Saturday (Apr. 6) afternoon, hosting Bluffton University for their first two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) home games of the year.

The opening game saw Franklin (13-9, 3-3 HCAC) jump on Beaver (12-12, 3-3 HCAC) pitching early and often, and the Grizzlies set a new season-high total for runs scored in a 19-7 blowout win. Game two ended up being the opposite of the opening game slugfest, with Bluffton taking a pitcher's duel and a 3-2 win to earn a split. 

Game One: Franklin 19 – Bluffton 7
The Beavers took advantage of a pair of Grizzly errors to plate three runs in the top of the first inning. However, the Franklin offense ensured the Beaver lead wouldn't last as each of the first six batters in the inning came in to score. Quenton Wellington walked to lead off the inning, stole second and came in to score on Ryan Bixler's RBI single. Bixler would score later in the inning on an error to make it 2-0, ahead of Drew Naumovich's two-run double and Alex Mis' two-run home run to make it a 6-3 game after one inning.

Franklin continued their onslaught with two runs in the second and three more in the third to reach double digits runs and make it an 11-3 contest. Franklin added to the lead with five more runs in the sixth and three runs in the eighth, one of those runs coming on Adam Hedinger's lead-off home run that was the first long ball of the sophomore catcher's career.

Wellington and Sam Claycamp had three hits each with Wellington scoring a career-high four times. Aaron Leming (3-1) allowed three earned runs over six innings of three-hit ball with four walks and five strikeouts. Ethan Adams, Tanner Nicholson and Alex Reihoehl each worked an inning in relief to close out the game.

Game Two: Bluffton 3 – Franklin 2
Both starting pitchers dominated early on, tossing up bagels in each of the first three innings. With two outs in the top of the fourth, the Beavers drew first blood with a solo home run. One inning later, Bluffton stretched the lead to three with an RBI double and balk that brought a run in.

Franklin strung together a pair of singles with two outs in the fifth, but couldn't break through with their first run of the contest. One inning later, the Grizzlies opened the frame with three straight hits to plate the first run courtesy of a Nick Wright single. Naumovich followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to one, but Franklin couldn't tack on the tying run. The Grizzlies' last quality scoring chance of the game came in the seventh when Jacob Heuchan advanced to third with just one out before being left there to end the frame.

Krae Sparks (1-4) was dominant over six innings of work, scattering three hits and striking out 10 batters for the second time this season. Ben Sprinkle worked the final three innings out of the bullpen, allowing one hit and striking out two.

The Grizzlies continue a six-game homestand on Tuesday (Apr. 9), taking on DePauw in a mid-week, non-conference twin bill. First pitch from McDowell Field is set for 2:00 p.m.