by Anna Dunlavey
Though Lords baseball got off to a shaky start in their first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) matchup, they quickly rebounded. After losing the first game of the series against the Hiram College Terriers, good pitching and offensive power brought them back to win the next three and take the series 3-1. Jake Dunn ’15 hit his 51st career double in the series, and now holds the school doubles record.
The first doubleheader of the series was supposed to be held at McCloskey Field on Saturday, but weather conditions forced those games to be postponed to Tuesday. The Terriers got the game off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Lords answered in the bottom of the first with six runs. Four of those runs came off a grand slam from Kyle Hardacker ’15, and the other two came from a two-run double by Max Warren ’18.
Hardacker also batted in two other runners over the next few innings for a game-high six RBI. “It was good to contribute,” he said. He added that he and fellow senior position player Dunn “look to bust games open and really have a positive impact in the middle of the lineup.”
Hiram tied the game at six in the top of the second, at which point Mike Jeffers ’15 came in to relieve starting pitcher Jesse Bogacz ’18. From there it was a constant game of catch-up, with runs scored in almost every inning. By the top of the seventh, Hiram led the game 17-11. The Lords almost came all the way back, scoring three unearned runs, but while they were able to load the bases, they weren’t able to pull off another grand slam. The final score ended up 17-14 in favor of Hiram. Josh Jacobvitz ’15, who came in to relieve Jeffers, was tagged with the loss.
“It didn’t get off to a great start,” Head Coach Matt Burdette said of the game. Emotions were running high as the Lords were playing their first conference game in front of a large home crowd. “Everybody was amped up, and we just played uncharacteristically.”
Hiram was still riding on the energy of their win when the teams came back to play the day’s second seven-inning game, and the Lords still had some nerves to work through. The first Hiram batter of the game tripled to left field and then scored on an infield error, giving the Terriers a one-run lead before a second batter even stepped up to the plate. The Terriers scored one more run in the top of the first, but it would prove to be their final run of the game.
The Lords scored three runs in the bottom of the first, and after scoring two more in the third, had a monstrous fourth inning in which they scored nine runs. One more run in the sixth secured a 15-2 win for Kenyon. Starting pitcher Thomas Morris ’17 threw all seven innings and got the win, giving up five hits and striking out six batters.
On Tuesday, the Lords and Terriers met at McCloskey Field again for two afternoon games. This time, Kenyon struck first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first, and then three more runs in the bottom of the third. The only runs Hiram scored came in the fifth inning. A Hiram batter ran on a dropped third strike, and catcher Warren’s throw didn’t make it to first baseman Jono Chafe ’17, giving the Terriers a chance to score two unearned runs.
However, the fifth inning wasn’t all bad news for the Lords. Dunn’s double to left center was the 51st of his career. After tying Kenyon’s all-time doubles record last weekend, he is now the school’s all-time doubles leader. Dunn scored on a single from Phillip Nam ’17, and Chafe scored in the bottom of the sixth to give the Lords a 7-2 victory. Winning pitcher Paul Henshaw ’16 gave up six hits, struck out five batters, and had no earned runs over seven innings.
Hiram tried to reestablish dominance in the second game of the doubleheader, which went for nine innings, by scoring a run in the top of the first. This attempt proved futile as the Terriers were effectively shut down by the Lords’ pitchers. Starting pitcher Tim Krahn ’15 only gave up the one run and six hits over seven innings of work. He also struck out seven batters en route to his third win of the season. Sam Gillespie ’16 took over in the eighth, giving up only one hit, and Spencer Byers ’16 pitched the ninth and struck out two batters. The Lords had their second nine-run fourth inning of the series, plus two more runs in the third, to seal the 11-1 victory.
“A little blip on your radar shouldn’t change your course,” Burdette said of the weekend as a whole. “To come back and win the final three games of the series, I thought, was a huge accomplishment for the team.”
“We calmed down for the rest of the series, and took care of business,” Hardacker said. “It was good to get it out of our system because Wooster is really good, and we’ll have to play really well against them.”
The College of Wooster is the Lord’s next opponent. The Lords will face them at home in a series of four games on Saturday and Sunday.