Pioneers split with Centre

Pioneers split with Centre

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—In a midweek doubleheader versus in-state rival Centre College, the Transylvania University baseball team dropped the first game 6-4 before bouncing back with a convincing 11-5 win in the second game of the afternoon.

In the first game, a three-run first inning from the Colonels put Transy behind the eight ball, as they were unable to recover to take the lead. Four hits and a fielder's choice brought the runs home for Centre before sophomore starting pitcher Tom Banahan was able to record the final out of the frame.

Centre extended their lead in the top of the fourth with one run but the Pioneers responded in the bottom half to narrow the margin to three runs again. After two quick outs, senior third baseman Nick Edwards drew a walk and stole second to move into scoring position. Sophomore outfielder Connor Blevins pulled a single into left field to bring Edwards around, making the score 4-1.

After Centre added two more in the top of the fifth to bring the score to 6-1, Transy added one in the bottom of the sixth and drew within two runs heading into the final inning. After holding Centre scoreless in the top of the seventh, freshman first baseman Taylor Henley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After two outs were recorded, junior outfielder Hunter Jones singled to put runners on first and second. Junior outfielder Trey Simpson stepped into the box and hit a deep double down the left field line, picking up two RBIs and bringing the tying run to the plate. The Transylvania was unable to capitalize though as Edwards grounded out to end the game.

The Pioneers were only able to record five hits in the first game, led by Blevins and Jones, who each picked up two; Simpson led the way with two RBIs. On the mound Banahan picked up the loss, working five innings and giving up six earned runs and striking out four. Sophomore Bryce Crader came out of the bullpen in relief and tossed two innings of scoreless baseball and tallying one strikeout.

Centre looked to continue their winning ways in the second game after picking up two runs on three hits to open the game. The Pioneers countered two innings later in an explosive bottom of the third, knocking in seven runs.

Freshman catcher Blake Hart opened the inning with a walk. Hart was followed up by junior outfielder Kameron Schwartz and Jones who each added singles to load the bases with no outs. Freshman shortstop Jared Williams came to the plate and drilled a three RBI triple into the left-center gap before two more singles from Simpson and junior second baseman Kody Ross extended the rally.

After a pitching change from the Colonels, Edwards walked and a sacrifice fly from Blevins brought the fifth run of the inning home. Edwards stole second base to put two runners in scoring position with two outs before Hart hit a fly ball to right that was dropped by the Centre outfielder, allowing Edwards and Ross to score. The seven run outburst put the Pioneers on top 7-3 and put them in the driver's seat for the rest of the game.

Centre added two in the fifth and one in the sixth but RBI singles from sophomore first baseman Ryan Bale and Schwartz in the fifth and a two RBI single from Edwards in the sixth extended the Pioneer lead to seven.

Simpson picked up his first win of the season on the mound, tossing seven innings of four run ball and recording four strikeouts. Junior Matt Birkenhauer came in relief in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs but recorded three outs without relenting a run to get the Pioneers out of the jam. Birkenhauer worked a one-run bottom of the sixth before handing the ball off to senior Jamie King for the final inning. In relief, King struck out two and induced a fly out to seal the win for Transylvania.

Transy had a much more productive game at the plate in the second game, picking up 12 runs on 11 hits and knocking in nine RBIs. Simpson and Edwards added two hits to led the charge, while Williams' three RBIs were a game-high for Transylvania. Edwards added two RBIs and four other Pioneers contributed one RBI apiece to round out the offense for the game.

The split moves the Pioneers to 3-4 on the season and have won three of their last four heading into their home opener this weekend versus John Carroll. Transy opens conference play next Tuesday at home versus Hanover College.