Transylvania baseball earns second HCAC sweep of the season with Sunday victories over Defiance

Austin Butts batting

Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania baseball team hit a season-high five game winning streak in sweeping the Defiance College Yellow Jackets on Saturday afternoon at Marquard Field.

The Pioneers grabbed a pair of games from the Yellow Jackets to move above .500 in both their overall record and in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play; the Pioneers improved to 13-11 overall and 4-2 against HCAC opponents following a 10-4 win in game one and a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.

The Pioneers plated three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings of game one to support a seven-inning win by freshman pitcher Evan Hall. In game two, the Pioneers squeezed a go-ahead run in the eighth inning to overtake Defiance for a 3-2 win.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Pioneers completed a 5-0 week, including a pair of sweeps against HCAC members Mount St. Joseph and Defiance to move into a tie for third place in the conference standings with Earlham College.

In game one, the Pioneers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second inning, taking advantage of an infielding error to score two runs. Defiance answered back in the top of the fifth inning with a three-run output to claim a 3-2 lead. The Pioneers evened up the game at 3-all in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single from senior infielder Taylor Henley that scored freshman infielder Hudson Chastain.

Momentum continued to shift as the Pioneers grabbed a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly RBI by sophomore catcher Cole Ratliff before the Yellow Jackets rallied again to tie the game on an RBI single in the top of the seventh.

The Pioneers grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh with a three-run outburst. Freshman infielder Henry Molloy scored sophomore outfielder David McAnelly on an RBI double into left field for the go-ahead run. Freshman infielder Wade LoPiccolo joined Molloy on the base paths as he was the second Pioneer of the inning to be hit by pitch. Freshman infielder Isaac Taylor then drew a walk  to load the bases with one out.

Chastain then took a pitch to the side to score Molloy for a 6-4 advantage. Ratliff finished off the production by grounding out and scoring LoPiccolo to make it a 7-4 game in favor of the home team.

Freshman pitcher Evan Hall earned the win to improve his record to 3-1 on the year, striking out four batters over seven innings of work and allowing three earned runs. Sophomore pitcher Collin Johnson collected his first save of the season in two innings of labor.

Taylor led the way with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, including two walks and an RBI. Chastain, Molloy, and Henley each delivered two hits in game one.

In game two, both teams traded blows, albeit with fewer runs to spare. Each side launched a respective RBI double to light up a 1-1 game on the scoreboard after one inning. Transylvania took a one-run lead in the bottom of the third as Taylor stole two bases and came home on a throwing error following his second straight steal.  

The Yellow Jackets tied the game at two-all in the top of the fourth inning as Defiance's Ben Bucklew came home from third on a sacrifice fly.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Pioneers seized the breakthrough they had vigorously sought for much of the afternoon.

With two outs, sophomore designated hitter Austin Butts drew a walk and stole second base to move into scoring position. Henley came through with a hard shot to deep left center field to push Butts across home plate and hand the Pioneers the 3-2 lead.

Freshman pitcher Drew Demler registered three quick outs in the top of the ninth to secure the win for the Pioneers and garner his third win of the season.

The Pioneers found the game two win despite being outhit six to four by the Yellow Jackets; Butts led the charge in game two with a 1-for-2 game at the plate, two walks, and supplied the lone multi-base hit for Transy.

The Pioneers return to play on Tuesday, April 10 as they visit the Berea College Mountaineers in Berea, Kentucky for a 4:00 p.m. doubleheader.

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