Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania baseball team commenced its 2017 season with a pair of offensive-flavored victories Saturday at Marquard Field against the Wabash College Little Giants.
The Pioneers won game one of their doubleheader, 8-4 before claiming a 12-11 victory against the Little Giants in game two.
The successful afternoon also christened a sparkling debut for new Transylvania head baseball coach Zack Getsee, who took over the program in August of 2016. Saturday's victories marked the first time the Pioneers have started a season 2-0 since the 2013 campaign.
Both of Saturday's games featured heavy offense and a steady swing of lead changes and comebacks for both sides. In each contest, the Pioneers figured out a way to win in the end.
Senior pitcher Tom Banahan got the start for Transylvania and navigated his way through turbulent waters over the first three innings as the Little Giants scored four runs over the second and third innings.
Banahan settled down in the fourth inning when the Pios turned their first double play of the season, and the Pioneers struck with two runs in the bottom of the inning to cut Wabash's lead in half at 4-2. After junior infielder Jared Williams and senior outfielder Connor Blevins got on base with back-to-back hits, junior catcher Blake Hart delivered them home with a ground-rule double.
The Pioneers knotted up the game at 4-4 in the sixth inning off a pair of RBI hits from Blevins and junior infielder Taylor Henley.
Wabash struck back in the top of the eighth inning to take a 6-4 lead. Their lead would be short-lived, as the Pioneers scored the final four runs of the game in the bottom of the frame. Blake Hart smacked a home run to tie the game, and the Pioneers scored the go-ahead runs on a pair of errors by Wabash for the 8-6 lead and the eventual final tally.
The Pioneers went 10-for-35 at the plate, led by Williams's 2-for-5, Hart's 2-for-4, and freshman infielder Nick Nelson's 2-for-4 performances. Freshman infielder David McAnelly also picked up his first career hit in his first start as a collegian. Senior pitcher Adam Boone picked up the win in relief as he worked the final three innings of the game.
The second game of the afternoon featured even more hitting than the first; after the Pioneers and Little Giants combined for 20 hits and 14 runs in game one, Wabash and Transylvania each delivered 19 hits.
Braden Johnson got the start for the Pioneers in game two, yielding three earned runs and seven hits over three innings. Wabash enjoyed a three-run inning in the top of the second, but Transylvania issued another timely response in the bottom half of the inning.
Freshman designated hitter Dakota Cassady led off the bottom of the second with a hard liner towards the Wabash shortstop, and Nelson followed with a one-out single to left field. Both runners advanced on an error by the Wabash catcher, and junior outfielder Rex Rogers drove in Cassady and Nelson with an RBI single.
Wabash accrued another two runs in the top of the third inning to take a 5-2 lead, but the pendulum of offense again swung Transylvania's direction, this time with more momentum in the bottom of the third. The Pioneers erupted for a four-run inning as Cassady clouted a home run shot to left centerfield with two outs. The freshman's homer catalyzed the offense as RBIs from McAnelly and Rogers provided three more runs for the Pioneers before Wabash escaped the inning.
The Pioneers appeared to be moving closer to a certain victory in the bottom of the fifth inning, when they collected five more runs for an 11-6 advantage. Williams, who produced a 4-for-5 game in the nightcap, hit a two-run triple and later scored on a passed ball to finish off the scoring in a powerful inning for the Pioneers.
But Wabash got to freshman pitcher Robert Young, who had been working the middle innings of the game with general effectiveness, in the seventh inning, leading off with three hits and a sacrifice fly RBI. Eventually Young was replaced by sophomore hurler Daniel Seitzinger, who got out of the inning, but not before Wabash squared the game at 11-11.
But as they had done all afternoon, Transylvania came up with a prompt response in the bottom of the seventh inning; Williams collected his second triple of the game, and with two outs, Hart drew a walk. On a curious play, Hart took off for second to force his way into an elongated pickle, while Williams put on the afterburners and sprinted home to score. Hart was out on the play, but not before Williams had touched home plate.
Boone again appeared in relief and closed down shop in the ninth inning to finish four innings of work spread over two games with a win and a save.
Cassady joined Williams in the hot bat department with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, while Nelson showed off his promise with a 4-for-4 showing in game two, to finish 6-for-8 for the day. Henley, McAnelly, and Rogers all went 2-for-4 at bat in the nightcap.
The Pioneers will host Wabash for one more game on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at Marquard Field.
For more on Transylvania baseball, follow @TransySports on Twitter