Lexington, Ky. – The Otterbein Cardinals journeyed to Marquard Field Saturday and handed the Transylvania baseball team a pair of defeats in the Pioneers' first home doubleheader of the year.
In Game One, the Pioneers' offense was stifled for most of the afternoon as they fell, 5-1. In the afternoon-cap, the Cardinals used an offensive outburst in the middle of the game to claim a 7-4 victory.
Adam Boone got the start in Game One and consumed seven innings before the Cardinals broke loose in the seventh inning, adding four runs on top of two early inning runs to grab a 6-0 lead heading into the stretch.
The Pioneers suffered from an inability to complete the equation in numerous innings, gathering one run on nine promising hits. Taylor Henley and lead-off hitter Trey Simpson each posted two hits in the opening game effort. Simpson gathered the lone RBI of the first game as the Pioneers mounted a series of threats against Otterbein, but were left in want when it came to the payoff play.
Transylvania appeared ready to strike in both the third and fifth innings but runners were stranded. Trailing just 2-0 in the fifth, shortstop Aaron Johnson advanced to third with an excellent chance to slice Otterbein's lead in half while being joined by Trey Simpson at second via a stolen base following a base hit. Instead, both were left stranded in what became the common refrain of the afternoon, leaving Otterbein with a crucial two-run lead.
Otterbein used a two-RBI double and an infield attack to build their lead to 5-0 before the Pioneers finally got onto the board in the bottom of the seventh when Simpson converted a bunt to drive in Taylor Henley for a 5-1 Transylvania deficit. The Cardinals fell back upon a defensive attack for the rest of the first game to shut down Transylvania for the 5-1 final.
The opening frames of Game Two took a defensive tone, demanding a defining run to take over the game. Trey Simpson quickly regathered himself after a laborious first game spent as the leadoff hitter and centerfielder to start on the mound for the Pios. Simpson went toe-to-toe against Otterbein starter Craig Prince before checking out of the game after four innings of work having yielded just two hits and two walks, along with a strikeout.
Otterbein's bats gradually heated up in the fifth when the Cardinals secured singular runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings against reliever Braden Johnson. Transy nearly escaped the fifth inning before Otterbein's Ben Beachy drove a hard liner to the six-hole that allowed Dom Guzzi to make his way home from third base for a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals increased their breathing room in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off solo home run shot by centerfielder Tyler Kent to take a 2-0 lead against Transylvania. But after the shockwave, Johnson shut down the rest of the side in a procedural fashion.
The Pioneers took back a run in the bottom of the frame as Simpson replicated Kent's swat with a solo home run of his own to provide the Pioneers with their first run of the day and more importantly, a manageable one-run deficit at 2-1.
But Otterbein's Guzzi matched both of his contemporaries with a lead-off home run to usher in the top of the seventh inning to build a 3-1 lead for Otterbein. Again Johnson made quick work of the rest of the order to get out of the inning without further harm and the Pioneers still within striking distance.
A slew of opportunities left unanswered were a major point of strife for the Pioneers in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kody Ross drew a one-out walk and Henley was hit by a pitch thereafter to put two men on. Gage Beavers was hit by a pitch as well to suddenly load the bases with just one out in the seventh.
After Otterbein signaled for a quick pitching change, Aaron Johnson sent a short fly ball to right field for the second out of the inning, and Trey Simpson grounded out for the third out of the inning to strand three runners in a game in which six men were left on base.
Transylvania showed signs of life in the eighth inning when Blevins doubled to send Daniel Seitzinger home and an infield error by Otterbein allowed Blevins to make his way home from second base to cut Otterbein's lead to 7-3.
The Pioneers crafted one final rally in the bottom of the ninth as Simpson doubled to score Will Adams and send Paden Vernon over to third for an additional threat and a 7-4 deficit with no outs. But after the fourth run for Transylvania, Otterbein inserted Caleb Norton who closed out the game with surefire reliability to record the 7-4 result in favor of his visiting Cardinals.
The Pioneers dropped to 4-6 with the set of losses while Otterbein improved to 9-2 to continue their stellar early-season stretch.
The Pioneers will now embark on a long trek away from Lexington before returning to the Bluegrass region on April 1 to host Defiance at Whitaker Bank Ballpark for their annual Legends night at the home stadium of Single-A Lexington. Transylvania's next set of games on the diamond pits them versus Ohio Wesleyan a week from tonight on March 19.
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