RECAP | Bixler Homers Three Times in Opener, Grizzlies Split with League-Leading Engineers

Photo courtesy of Quinn Fitzgerald
Photo courtesy of Quinn Fitzgerald

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team faced their biggest test of the conference schedule on Tuesday (Apr. 16) night, hitting the road for two games against league-leading Rose-Hulman, who entered the night unbeaten in conference play.

Franklin (17-11, 6-4 HCAC) fell behind in the opener before putting together a 13-run seventh inning on their way to a 19-8 win. Game two was an evenly-matched contest that went the way of the Engineers (18-8, 7-1 HCAC), 6-4. 

Game One: Franklin 19 – Rose-Hulman 8
Down by a pair through two innings, Franklin broke through in their half of the third when Sam Claycamp knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. One inning later, Quenton Wellington evened things up with an RBI fielder's choice, but the Engineers would re-take a two-run lead with runs in both the fourth and sixth innings. Then, the proverbial dam broke.

Each of the first three Franklin batters reached ahead of Nick Wright to open the seventh. The Grizzly clean-up hitter would keep the rally going with a run-scoring infield single, cutting the lead in half. Just a few pitches later, Franklin had their first lead of the day when Ryan Bixler sent a pitch flying over the wall in left for a grand slam and a 7-4 Franklin lead.

It ended up being just the start of a monstrous Franklin rally, as Wellington stepped in with the bags full later in the inning and launched a pitch over the center field wall for the team's second grand slam of the inning. Three batters later, Wright knocked in another run with a double and Bixler followed with his second home run of the inning, a three-run shot that made it 15-4. One inning later, Wright knocked in two more with a double and Bixler smacked his third home run in as many at-bats, a two-run shot to cap the scoring.

Aaron Leming (4-1) was solid over six innings of work, scattering eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Tanner Nicholson worked three scoreless innings to earn his second save of the year.

Game Two: Rose-Hulman 6 – Franklin 4
Once again, the Engineers got on the board first when they hung up a three-spot in the bottom of the first inning. Franklin got on the board in the top of the fourth when Jacob Heuchan came in to score on a passed ball, but the Engineers got that run back in their half of the fourth to restore a three-run lead.

With two outs in the sixth, the Grizzlies strung together a rally to get back to even. Alex Mis scored on an error that would have ended the inning and with two runners still on base, Naumovich smacked a bases-clearing double off the center field wall to make it a 4-4 game.

The Grizzlies put two runners on with two outs in the eighth but came up empty on the scoreboard. Rose-Hulman would not miss out on their eighth inning rally, plating two runs on a single by leadoff hitter Connor Shipley.

Nick Elmendorf made the start for the Grizzlies, allowing one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts over four innings of work. Ethan Adams (3-1) pitched well in relief, allowing four hits and striking out three over 3 1/3 innings.

Franklin continues their road trip on Saturday (Apr. 20), heading to Richmond, Ind. for a pair of games against the Earlham Quakers. Game one's first pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.