Westfield, Ind. – The Transylvania baseball team concluded its season-opening weekend with a pair of wins on Sunday afternoon at Grand Park, defeating Wisconsin-Oshkosh 14-10 and Wabash 10-9. The Pioneers returned the favors to both squads who they faced on Friday and Saturday to complete their weekend on winning notes while evening their record to 2-2.
Sunday's doubleheader featured a plethora of offense for the Pioneers, a 10-run explosion in the first game of the day against Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and an endless supply of Oshkosh in the latter game against Wabash which saw a youthful Pioneer team come up with clutch plays when it mattered most.
With two wins under their belt, the Pioneers will spend next weekend on the road as they venture to Sauget, Illinois just east of St. Louis Missouri to face Webster and North Park on Sunday, March 4, and Benedictine on Monday, March 5.
The bats awakened for the Pioneers in gargantuan fashion for the first time in 2018 during the fifth inning of Sunday's first game against Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
The Pioneers continued to signal the emergence of a talented youth movement as freshman pitcher Evan Hall got the start in the first game of the afternoon. The Tates Creek high school product was the third straight freshman pitcher to make a career debut as a starter for the Pioneers to begin the season.
Hall's start was consistent overall as his pitching kept the Pioneers in the game defensively while the bats heated up throughout.
The Pioneers' lead stood briefly before Oshkosh scored two runs in the top of the following frame and another in the fourth inning to carry a 3-1 lead to the fifth inning. The Titans put two runners aboard in the fifth but Hall notched one of his four strikeouts and induced the final Oshkosh batter of the inning into a flyout to strand both runners and set the table for a memorable bottom of the fifth inning.
Transylvania's fifth inning began with a walk by McAnelly, and senior Isaac Taylor made his way to first via an infielder error as the Pioneers placed two on base. Senior outfielder Jared Williams cut Oshkosh's lead to 3-2 with an RBI double into the left field alley, and Transy's next batter, Wade Lopiccolo, loaded the bases after he was hit by a pitch.
With still no outs in the fifth inning, Austin Butts came through with a double that scored both Williams and Taylor to put the Pioneers on top, 4-3. Sophomore outfielder Riley Willbur then drew the second walk of the inning that retired Oshkosh's second pitcher in the frame.
Transylvania continued to make its hits count at the right times as Hudson Chastain hit an RBI single into the outfield that scored Butts and loaded the bases yet again. With a 5-3 Transy lead, Michael Blair tripled into centerfield to score Chastain, Willbur, and Ratliff for an 8-3 buffer.
Oshkosh finally secured its first out of the inning as the Pioneers batted around and McAnelly flied out in his second at-bat of the fifth inning, bringing home Blair on a sacrifice fly RBI. The Pioneers tabbed on one more run as Williams drew a walk to reach base for the second time in the inning. The senior stole second base and cashed in as Lopiccolo drove him in with an RBI single to centerfield.
As the dust settled in the fifth inning, the Pioneers held an 11-3 lead on 10 runs and five hits.
Transy tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Blair belted a three-run home run to left center to send home Chastain and Willbur.
Hall gained the win while Evan Patrick secured a save after a late rally from Oshkosh.
Blair led the Pioneers offensively with a 3-for-5 day at the plate and six runs batted in. Willbur, Lopiccolo, and Chastain also turned in multi-hit games.
After being outhit by Oshkosh 13-12 despite a three-run victory in the first game of the afternoon, the Pioneers' bats ignited to the next level in the nightcap, mustering 13 hits to Wabash's 12.
Freshman Jake Schmidt was the latest Pioneer to make his pitching debut over the weekend and found his footing in 4.1 innings of labor. While Wabash registered five runs during his start, Schmidt was charged with just one earned run. The freshman from Dublin, Ohio scattered four walks and piled five strikeouts during his first career stint.
Wabash claimed a 1-0 run in the top of the first inning on an RBI groundout, but the Pioneers responded in the bottom of the second with a three-run inning. RBI's from Chastain and Lopiccolo transferred the lead to Transy and Lopiccolo was able to come home on a wild pitch for a 3-1 Transy lead.
Wabash knotted up the game at 3-all in the bottom of the third on a two-run double down the right field line from Jackson Blevins, but Tranyslvania's Willbur wrested away a lead the Pioneers would hold onto for the rest of the game in the bottom half of the inning.
The Pioneers had another high-octane frame as Willbur blasted a two-run home run for a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning. In the following inning, Willbur stepped up again to drive home a two-run single for an 8-3 Pioneer advantage.
Wabash worked its way back into the game during the middle innings, trimming the Transylvania deficit to 8-7. Freshman reliever Drew Demler made his debut and held Wabash in check during the seventh and eighth innings to maintain a Transylvania lead.
Senior infielder Taylor Henley gave the Pioneers the final cushion they needed in the eighth inning, hitting a single into the outfield to drive in Butts and Williams for a 10-7 lead.
Wabash made Transylvania's end exciting as they scored twice more against Patrick in the top of the ninth inning, but with two runners on and one out, Patrick retired the final two batters to secure a weekend-ending victory for Transylvania.
Henley and Butts each generated three hits in the win while Butts enjoyed a 2-for-4 game against Wabash. Demler was credited for the win while Patrick finished off a two-save day for Transylvania.
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