LEXINGTON, Ky.—The Transylvania University baseball team earned a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference series win on Saturday, splitting a doubleheader with the visiting Defiance College Yellow Jackets. Riding the momentum from a thrilling extra innings win on Friday night, the Pioneers led wire-to-wire in the day's opening game to take a 5-4 victory and narrowly missed the sweep, falling by two runs in the series finale.
Junior Braden Johnson got the nod on the mound for Transy to start the day and set the tone quickly, working an unconventional 1-2-3 first inning. After allowing a leadoff single, Johnson recorded a strikeout and catcher Blake Hart threw out a would-be Defiance base stealer for a double play. Johnson ended the inning with another strikeout to bring the Pioneers to the plate in the bottom of the first.
Transylvania pounced early, scoring two runs to grab the lead. Center fielder Trey Simpson led off the inning with the walk, followed by shortstop Aaron Johnson who also drew a walk. Designated hitter Jared Williams bunted to move the runners to second and third with one out for right fielder Connor Blevins. Blevins drove a ball to deep right field for a sacrifice fly, plating the first run of the day for the Pioneers. First baseman Taylor Henley followed Blevins with a double to right field to score Johnson and give Transy a 2-0 lead heading into the second inning.
On the mound, Johnson worked around two singles in the second to hold Defiance scoreless and bring the Pioneers to the plate again. Transylvania was unable to build on their lead in the second despite hits from third baseman Rex Rogers and Simpson. In the top of the third, Johnson worked a hitless frame to keep the 2-0 lead intact.
The Pioneers built on their lead in the bottom of the inning, adding two runs on an opposite field homerun from Henley. Blevins led off the inning with a single through the middle to give Henley the RBI opportunity. In the fourth, Johnson recorded a much needed shutdown inning for Transylvania, allowing just one hit but recording two groundouts and a strikeout. Johnson continued twirling a gem in the fifth, holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless yet again. After a one-out error and single put runners on the corner for Defiance, Johnson got tough and got a crucial groundball, starting a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
In the bottom of the fifth, Transylvania picked up its fifth and final run of the game to extend its lead to 5-0. Williams and Blevins led off the inning with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners for Henley, who picked up his fourth RBI of the day with a sac fly to center field, giving Johnson all the cushion he would need for the remainder of the game.
Johnson worked scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh innings but allowed a lone run in the eighth to make the score 5-1 heading into the top of the ninth. Johnson struck out the first batter of the inning but allowed three straight hits, including an RBI double that ended his day. Freshman Daniel Seitzinger entered the game in relief for Johnson and got a groundout on the first batter he faced but a runner scored to make the game 5-3 with two outs. After an RBI single up the middle cut the Pioneer lead to one run, Seitzinger locked in and picked up a strikeout looking to end the game and earn his first career save.
All told, the Pioneers tallied nine hits, led by two each from Williams, Blevins, Henley and Rogers. Henley had a career day, knocking in a career-high four RBIs and picking up his first career homerun. Johnson was the story on the mound for Transylvania, scattering 13 hits over 8.1 innings and striking out five to grab his second win of the season.
In the second game of the day, it was the offense's time to shine as the two teams tallied a combined 42 hits and 36 runs as the Yellow Jackets came away with a 19-17 victory in 10 innings.
Transylvania grabbed a five run lead after two innings and looked poised to bury Defiance early and earn the season sweep. But in the top of the third, Defiance responded with a four-run inning to pull within one run and took the lead in the fourth after plating two runs. Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the fourth, Transylvania mounted a rally to recapture the lead and put Defiance on the ropes.
Simpson led off the inning with a single and stole second. Aaron Johnson reached first on an error by the shortstop and moved to second on the throw, scoring Simpson. After a Transylvania strikeout, Blevins blasted a homerun to deep left center field, plating two more runs for the Pioneers. Henley walked and second baseman Kody Ross singled and both runners advanced on an error by the left fielder. After a pitching change, Hart stepped to the plate and reached on an error by the first baseman. A wild play with one out with a groundball, a throwing error and two runs scored left the Pioneers with an 11-5 lead.
Defiance responded with a crushing seven-run top of the fifth to take a 13-11 lead after six hits and five Transylvania errors in the inning. After a scoreless sixth inning for both teams, Defiance added to their lead with a three-run seventh inning to take a 16-11 lead. Transylvania responded with a big inning of their own, scoring five runs on four hits. Williams led off the inning with a strikeout but reached first base after the wild pitch became lodged inside the catcher's chest protector. After a strikeout, Henley singled to put runners on the corners for Ross, who delivered an RBI single to right field to plate the first run of the inning for Transy. A second strikeout of the inning brought up Rogers, who walked to load the bases for left fielder Hunter Jones. Jones scorched a top-spinner line drive to center field that tipped off the glove of the Yellow Jacket outfielder, allowing two runs to score. Simpson singled up the middle to extend the inning for the Pioneers, as did a hit by pitch for Johnson. Jared Williams drove a single up the middle, scoring the final run of the inning for the Pioneers evening the score at 16 heading into the eighth.
The Pioneers grabbed the lead in the bottom of the eighth after two hits and two errors, giving Transylvania 17-16 lead going to the ninth inning. After a leadoff single from Defiance, Transy recorded the first out of the inning on a sacrifice bunt. With a runner on second and one out, pitcher Kameron Schwartz unfurled a wild pitch that moved the runner to third but picked up a big strikeout for the second out of the inning. Another wild pitch scored the tying run but Schwartz picked up a groundball out to end the frame to give Transylvania a chance to win the game in the ninth.
After a scoreless bottom of the ninth, Defiance hit a two-run, two-out homerun in the top of the 10th to take the lead for good at 19-17. Transylvania attempted to mount a rally in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with two outs but the magic ran out an inning too soon as the Pioneers were unable to push across any runs and pull of their second walkoff win of the weekend and take the sweep.
Transylvania tallied 19 hits in the contest with 10 players recording hits. Simpson delivered four hits and two RBIs for Transy, while Williams and Jones each tallied three RBI games.
Transylvania (9-11, 5-3 HCAC) returns to play on Tuesday in a road contest against HCAC opponent Mount St. Joseph. First pitch is slated for 6:00pm.