Transylvania baseball shakes up Earlham to sweep doubleheader in 2019 HCAC opener

Medford batting

Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania baseball team began its Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference schedule with fire on Tuesday afternoon, sweeping the Earlham College Quakers 4-1 and 17-6 at Marquard Field.

The Pioneers battled Earlham tightly for most of game one in an afternoon-opening pitcher's duel before plating three runs late to pull off a thrilling victory. Transylvania rode upon its game one momentum by reeling off 14 runs in the first five innings of game two to end its day on a dominant note in moving to 2-0 in HCAC play and 9-11 overall. Earlham fell to 8-11 overall and 0-2 in conference play.

The game two win served as Transylvania's largest single-game run output this season as well as its largest margin of victory over an opponent in the 2019 campaign.

Game one featured a brilliant performance by Transy starter Collin Johnson, who went six innings and dealt a season-high five strikeouts against no walks while scattering six hits over that span and yielding one earned run. Johnson leads the HCAC in innings pitched and has not allowed a walk this season.  

Each team plated one run over the first four innings as each team's starting pitcher dug in. Transylvania led 1-0 in the bottom of the second as Trey Medford scored Wade Lopiccolo on an RBI base hit to left field before Earlham evened up the score on an RBI double.

Transylvania made its winning charge in the bottom of the seventh inning as Riley Willbur led off with a hard-hit single to the left and stole second base to move into scoring position. Michael Blair moved Willbur over to third with a sacrifice bunt and Hudson Chastain found his first hit of the day, a base hit to left centerfield to bring home Willbur for a 2-1 lead. Chastain used his legs for the second run of the inning by stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error before later scoring on a wild pitch.

The Pioneers added an additional run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI base hit from Henry Molloy that scored Lopiccolo.

Evan Burnett came in relief of Johnson to start the seventh inning and shutdown the Earlham order over the final three innings, allowing just one hit, no walks, and striking out two as he claimed his third win of the season.

Willbur led the way in game one with a 3-for-5 day at the plate with two stolen bases. Chastain also bagged two bases while going 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Lopiccolo and Medford each went 2-for-4 as the Pioneers tallied 10 hits.

The Pioneers amplified their offense in the second game of the day with a five-run explosion in the bottom of the first inning to surge in front, 5-0. Willbur reached first to lead off the bottom of the first on an infielding error. Transylvania made Earlham pay dearly for its mistake as the next four batters all delivered hits to score three runs. Medford drove in two more to end the inning's scoring on a single through the right side.

Transylvania's first-inning outburst set off a palindrome of scoring over the first five innings as the Pioneers plated five runs in the first inning, two in the second inning, two more in the fourth, and finally a second five-run outpouring in the fifth inning.

Blair, Chastain, and Austin Butts were all equally potent to start the second game as all three players found hits in their first two at-bats.

Willbur's first hit of the second game was timely as it sparked the second five-run inning for the Pioneers in the fifth. With Medford on at third base with one out, Willbur shot a single up the middle for a 10-2 Transylvania lead.

Willbur then stole second and Blair drew a walk before Chastain smacked one of his three doubles in game two to bring Willbur home. Butts followed with an RBI double to score Blair and Lopiccolo hit an RBI single to right field that scored two runners for the final runs of the inning, lifting Transylvania's advantage to 14-2.

Game-two starter Devon Hart achieved his first career win, working five innings while notching three strikeouts and yielding three hits against two earned runs. Jared Leuthart worked the next two innings in relief and racked a game-high four strikeouts.

Chastain led the Pioneers in game two with a 4-for-5 day at the plate with a walk and three RBI. Devyn Wilson-Cowan went 3-for-5 with three RBI and a sacrifice fly. Butts was the other Pioneer to attain three hits with a 3-for-4 game at the plate and two RBI. Transylvania scored 17 runs on 17 hits while taking advantage of four Earlham errors.

The Pioneers continue their HCAC schedule on Saturday as they welcome the defending conference champion Franklin College Grizzlies to Marquard Field. First pitch between the Pioneers and Grizzlies is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Lexington.

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