Category Archives: Baseball

Thunder baseball begins season with winning streak

By Abram Erickson

Thanks to a commanding opening stretch, the Wheaton Thunder Men’s Baseball team is off to a strong start this season, and they’re cruising into conference play.

Currently sitting at a 13-6 record, the team started off the year on fire in the non-conference schedule, racking up seven straight wins.

Their winning streak began at Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where the Thunder opened the season with a pair of wins against Covenant College. Then they went to Fort Pierce, Florida for the team’s annual spring break trip, where the Thunder won all of their first five games in the Florida Coast Spring Training Tournament. Wheaton gained two victories against Norwich University, then took a game apiece from Geneva College, Western Connecticut State and Cairn University.

Two losses in a doubleheader against Washington College stopped the streak at seven wins, but the Thunder stormed back with a commanding 11-1 win over the College of Mount Saint Vincent to finish off the tournament.

The Thunder returned home to Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream for the first time on Friday, March 22, when they opened up the Wheaton Invitational against Concordia College (Minn.). Wheaton prevailed over Concordia 8-2 in the opener, and then tallied another victory against Saint Mary’s University (Minn.) on Saturday. The invitational finished with the Thunder falling, 5-10, to Concordia University Chicago in Saturday’s nightcap.

The Thunder were 10-3 heading into conference play and moved seamlessly into their CCIW regular-season schedule with a win against Illinois Wesleyan University, 8-5.

Wheaton’s first conference series of the year was a face-off against the Big Blue of Millikin University on March 30 and April 1. The Thunder took the opener on Saturday, 9-3, but fell 4-0 in game two. Millikin won the rubber match on Monday, 3-0, to drop Wheaton’s conference record to 2-2.

Immediately following the Millikin series, Wheaton went back to work in a CCIW doubleheader against Carthage College on Tuesday. The Thunder won game one in dramatic fashion, thanks to a walk-off double by freshman infielder Matthias Haggerty in the bottom of the 10th inning, which led Wheaton to the 9-8 victory. Game two saw Carthage earn a 10-7 win, and Wheaton’s conference record remain even at 3-3.

The Thunder will look to carry momentum from their strong opening throughout the CCIW season. They aim to continue performing the way they did their dominant non-conference stretch, according to senior infielder and team captain Ben Brittain.

“We’ve had a strong start to the season so far, and the most encouraging part about it is the amount of contributors,” Brittain said. “Heading into conference, our entire starting lineup was batting over .300, which is something that we have never had the luxury of in my four years on the team. Likewise, our pitching staff consistently gives us opportunities to win games.”

Brittain himself is among those setting the tone for the Thunder batters, as he leads the team with a .387 average and 29 hits. Sophomore infield/outfield player Joel Pierce has been another bright spot for the Thunder offense thus far, leading the team in doubles, total bases and home runs with eight, 45 and three, respectively.

“When the pressure of performing is spread throughout the lineup, hitters are more relaxed at the plate which builds confidence,” added Brittain.

Wheaton has strength on the mound thanks to leadership from senior starting pitcher Michael McCraith, who is the top performer among the hurlers with 32.1 innings pitched, a 3-1 overall record and a 1.95 ERA. Junior pitcher Christian Bolhuis has also added three wins on his way to a 3-2 record.

“Overall, both our confidence between individuals and teammates is at an all-time high and we are hoping to continue the trend as we begin conference,” Brittain said.

Fellow team captain Nick Mailman, a senior outfielder, echoed Brittain’s comments. “It’s been a great start to the year. We’re getting significant contributions from all spots in the lineup,” Mailman said. “We’re lucky to have so many key contributors returning, and that should bode well for us in conference.”

With a 13-6 record overall and a 3-3 record in conference, the Thunder are poised to enter the bulk of their CCIW schedule.

Up next is a three-game series against Elmhurst College on April 5 and 6, with game one on Friday in Elmhurst, and games two and three in Carol Stream on Saturday.

Wheaton Baseball drops the ball — four times

April 26 2018

The Wheaton Thunder Baseball team had another rough stretch this week, despite the spring weather warm-up. Coming off of a four-game losing streak, the Thunder looked to bounce back against North Central College and North Park University, but instead they dropped all four of their games to increase their winless streak to eight. The Thunder lost their single game against North Central, and then were swept in their series against North Park, leaving their record to now stand at 13-17 overall and 4-11 in the CCIW.

The Thunder faced off against North Central College in a single game on Friday, April 19 in Carol Stream, and were soundly defeated by a score of 14-2.

The North Central Cardinals posted 14 runs on 16 hits, compared to Wheaton’s two runs on four hits. Junior Caleb Selk started the game on the mound for the Thunder, but was chased after just two innings when North Central opened the game with three runs in the top of the second inning.

The Thunder did respond with one run in the bottom half of the second, as senior Seth Meyer scored on a double to right field by freshman Jacob Garrity, but it would be Wheaton’s lone run of the game until they were able to add one more in the sixth.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals scored six, four and one runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to bring the score to 14-1. The Thunder’s last run of the game came in the bottom of the sixth, when junior Nick Mailman scored on a single by senior Johnny Peltz.

Selk took the loss for the Thunder, while seven other pitchers were also called on to finish the seven-inning game that was shortened by the mercy rule.

With the North Central game behind them, the Thunder looked once again to snap their skid, this time in a three-game conference series against North Park University.

Game one of the series was played in Chicago, and saw North Park take the narrow victory, 4-3.

The Vikings earned their first run off of the Thunder starter pitcher, junior Michael McCraith, in the bottom of the third, but Wheaton quickly brought the game back to even in the fourth when Mailman scored on a single by junior Ben Brittain.

The bottom of the fifth inning saw the Vikings take a 3-1 lead, as a costly Wheaton error afforded North Park two runs, but Peltz’ solo homer down the left field line brought the score to a manageable 3-2 in the top of the seventh.

North Park scored their final run of the game on a fielder’s choice double-play in the bottom of the seventh, where Wheaton decided to trade outs for runs in hopes they would be able to overcome the Vikings’ 4-2 lead.

While they were able to earn one run back when freshman Graham Core scored on a wild pitch in the eighth, Wheaton couldn’t bring the tying run to the plate in the final two innings, resulting in a hard-fought loss of 4-3.

Game two of the series was just as close, with Wheaton falling 3-2 when the teams returned to Carol Stream on Saturday.

North Park scored all of their runs in the second inning, on four hits and a fielding error, and they held their 3-0 lead for most of the game. Despite having baserunners, Wheaton couldn’t seem to get on the board, until they finally broke their scoreless streak in the sixth inning with one run by freshman Joel Pierce on a single by Peltz.

Things did begin to look hopeful as the Thunder scored another run in the bottom of the seventh, when Core once again scored on a wild pitch, to bring the score within one. However, despite opportunities to score, Wheaton struggled once more to bring the tying run to the plate in the final two innings of the game. They had men on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but were not able to push either runner across, and the game finished 3-2.

The final game of the series against North Park was not close like the first two, as Wheaton was blown out in an 11-1 game that was also shortened to seven innings.

Once again North Park got on the board early, as Wheaton struggled to create runs. North Park led off with four runs in the first inning, but no scoring followed until the fifth, when each team managed a single run in their half of the frame. Wheaton’s run came on an RBI single by Pierce that scored sophomore Connor Hartman.

After that, two back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and seventh were enough to give North Park the 10-run lead, resulting in the game ending in the seventh with a score of 11-1.

Wheaton currently sits at the bottom of the CCIW with their 4-11 conference record, but they do have a chance to redeem themselves, as their final nine games of the season are all conference matchups. They will play a doubleheader on April 25 against Millikin University. After that, Wheaton will begin a series against Carroll University this weekend, with game one being played in Carol Stream at 6 p.m. on Friday, and games two and three in Waukesha, Wis. on Saturday.

 

Spring is being unforgiving to the Wheaton Baseball team

April 19 2018

Despite uncooperative spring weather, the Wheaton Thunder Baseball team was able to play three games this week. Two of their games have been postponed until further notice. Wheaton went 0-3 over the tough week, losing 14-4 to Millikin University on Wednesday, 6-4 to Carthage College on Friday and 5-3 against Carthage on Tuesday. Their record now stands at an even 13-13, while their CCIW record rests at 4-7.

Wheaton’s game against Millikin University was tough for the Thunder throughout. Five Wheaton pitchers allowed a combined 20 hits and 14 runs to the Millikin offense, compared to Wheaton’s four runs on six hits. The Thunder defense also committed four errors.

Millikin was on the board first, with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, and by the top of the fifth inning they led 10-0.

In the sixth, junior Ben Brittain walked and senior Johnny Peltz reached on an error before junior Clay Morrison drove them both home with a double to right field to bring the score to 10-2.

In the seventh, sophomore Sam Reichert and freshman Graham Core scored on singles by freshmen Cale Lewis and Joel Pierce to trim the lead to six.

The Thunder wouldn’t score again, but Millikin added four more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to end the game early by the run rule, with the score of 14-4.

Wheaton looked to move on from Wednesday’s game with a three-game conference series against Carthage College, but the Thunder fell in game one 6-4.

Carthage scored in the top of the first inning, but Wheaton responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Junior Nick Mailman scored on a sacrifice fly by Brittain after singling himself, and Morrison drove in freshman Jesse Welch –– who also singled –– on a double down the leftfield line.

Wheaton then increased their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third inning when Pierce was brought home on a double by senior Seth Meyer after being hit by a pitch and stealing second.

Junior starting pitcher Michael McCraith (3-2) pitched six strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits, but he was replaced in the seventh inning by junior Caleb Selk (3-1). Carthage went on to score four runs in the seventh to take the lead 5-3.

Mailman looked to start a rally in the seventh when he doubled with one out, but after an RBI single by Welch brought him home, the rally stalled, leaving the score at 5-4.

Carthage added one more insurance run in the top of the eighth, but Wheaton couldn’t push a man across the plate in the eighth or ninth innings, resulting in their 6-4 loss.

Game two, originally set to be played as the second half of a doubleheader on the same day as game one, was postponed due to weather and was played on April 17. It was another close game, but again Wheaton fell to Carthage, this time 5-3.

Carthage was the team out on top in this one, leading 3-0 after the first inning, but Wheaton looked to stay in step with their opponents as they added a run of their own in the top of the second. Junior Evan Ogden led off the inning with a triple to right center, and he was quickly brought to the plate on a sacrifice fly by Pierce, bringing the score to 3-1.

The Thunder then went cold for the next four innings, although they had their chances to score. Wheaton had eight runners on base over the course of those innings, but were never able to bring a runner across the plate. Instead, Carthage scored a run in the fifth and the sixth to further extend their lead to 5-1.

The Thunder came alive again in the seventh, though, as they loaded the bases with one out on singles by Core and Mailman and a walk by Welch. Core scored on a sac fly by Brittain, and Mailman came home on a passed ball to bring the score to 5-3.

Wheaton wouldn’t manage any more runs, however, as they were unable to move a runner past first base in the final two innings, leaving the final score at 5-3.

The third game of the series against Carthage College has been postponed until further notice, as has Wednesday’s series opener against North Central College. If weather cooperates, the Thunder will face off next against North Central on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Carol Stream. Wheaton also has a three-game CCIW series this weekend against North Park University, with game one being played on Friday at North Park at 7 p.m., and games two and three on Saturday in Carol Stream at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

 

Two wins and one loss in three games against IWU

April 12 2018

The Wheaton Thunder Baseball team took their three-game series this weekend against the Illinois Wesleyan University Titans two games to one. It was an interesting series, featuring a 12-1 blowout win by Wheaton in game one, a close game two where Wheaton was able to eke out a win 3-2 and a tough Wheaton loss in game three, 15-4. The Thunder’s overall record improved to 13-10 over the weekend, while their CCIW record stands at an even 4-4.

Game one of the series, played in Bloomington, Ill., was a seven-inning game that was shortened by the run rule, as Wheaton rolled to victory 12-1.

Things started off well for the Thunder, as five runners reached bases in the top of the first inning, resulting in three runs. Juniors Evan Ogden and Clay Morrison had RBI singles, while senior Johnny Peltz scored on an error by the opposing catcher.

The game remained 3-0 until Wheaton pulled away in the top of the third with a massive inning. The Thunder batted through their order and then some, on their way to eight runs on seven hits. Freshman Graham Core, junior Nick Mailman and freshman Joe Pierce all had two-RBI doubles in the inning, making up six of the Thunder’s runs, while freshman Jesse Welch accounted for the other two, as he drove in Mailman with an RBI single and later scored himself on a wild pitch.

The Titans scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the third, as junior starting pitcher Michael McCraith (3-2) held them down the rest of the way. McCraith went the distance, throwing a seven-inning complete game, giving up only one run on four hits, with 11 strikeouts and five walks.

Wheaton added one more run in the top of the seventh to earn the 12-1 victory.

Game two brought the teams to Lee Pfund stadium in Carol Stream, where Wheaton was able to get the win, 3-2, in a much closer ballgame.

Illinois Wesleyan scored first with two runs in the top of the third, but it took until the fifth inning for Wheaton to get on the board. In the bottom of the frame, freshman Jacob Garrity led off with a triple and was quickly brought home on a single by Core to bring the score to 2-1.

After no scoring in the sixth inning, Wheaton relied on small ball to tie the game in the seventh. After Garrity and Core walked, Mailman moved the pair to second and third with a SAC bunt, and Welch brought Garrity home with a suicide squeeze to even the score at 2-2.

Wheaton would score the final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth when Peltz led off with a double, was bunted to third by Morrison and then scored on an RBI single by Pierce.

Sophomore Grant Howell started the game on the mound and earned a tough no-decision for his seven-inning, two-run, seven-strikeout performance. It was junior Caleb Selk (3-0) who earned the win for pitching a scoreless eighth inning, while senior Nick Johnson earned his sixth save of the year as he shut down the Titans in the top of the ninth.

After two strong wins in the series, Wheaton was unable to complete the sweep with a game three win, as they lost in a blowout, 15-4.

Wheaton had a 3-1 lead after the first inning, and added another run in the bottom of the fifth, but Illinois Wesleyan’s bats were too much for the Thunder. They scored in each of the last five innings of the game, with especially big innings of four runs in the sixth and six runs in the seventh, to finish the game with a score of 15-4.

Six Thunder pitchers gave up a combined 18 hits, and Wheaton’s defense allowed four errors. Welch took the loss for the Thunder. The Thunder were led from the plate by Pierce, who had two hits and two RBIs.

Freshman Joel Pierce earned the title of CCIW Hitter of the Week for his performance this weekend. Across the three games, Pierce had six hits and five RBIs, including two doubles and a triple. He also drew two walks, stole a base and scored once during the series.

The Thunder will look to extend this performance into the weekend, where they will play another three-game conference series against Carthage College. Game one will be at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream on Friday, April 13, at 5 p.m. Games two and three will be on Saturday the 14th in Kenosha, Wisconsin at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.

 

Four CCIW games in five days for Wheaton Baseball

April 5 2018

The Wheaton Thunder Baseball team opened up conference play this weekend with a string of five games across four days. The team dropped both of their games in the opening series against North Central College last Wednesday, but bounced back to win their weekend series against Augustana two games to one. In all, the Thunder were 2-3 over the weekend, moving their overall record to 11-9 and their conference record to 2-3.

The opening series against the North Central College Cardinals did not go as planned for the Thunder, who were on the losing end of both games. Game one was lopsided, with Wheaton falling 10-0, while game two was another tough loss by the score of 8-2.

In the first game, North Central scored 10 runs on 12 hits while Wheaton managed zero runs on five hits. The game was scoreless through the first two innings, but North Central broke the tie with a three-run third inning, and it was all downhill from there for the Thunder. Three Wheaton errors in the fourth inning resulted in five runs for North Central, four of which were unearned. Defensive miscues again came back to haunt the Thunder in the seventh inning, when an error, an HBP and a wild pitch resulted in North Central’s final two runs.

Wheaton had runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings, but was unable to advance any runners past third base, resulting in the 10-0 loss.

Game two was equally as dismal, as North Central jumped on the Thunder with five runs in the first inning, chasing freshman starter Sam Arnold before the inning was over. The Cardinals added another run in the second to bring the score to 6-0 through two innings.

After two scoreless innings on both sides, Wheaton looked to make a run in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs. Senior Seth Meyer and junior Nick Mailman had both singled and freshman Jesse Welch was hit by a pitch before a grounder by junior Ben Brittain was mishandled by the North Central shortstop and allowed Meyer and Mailman to score.

These would be the Thunder’s only runs of the game, but the Cardinals would add two more in the seventh inning on two errors by the Thunder to bring the final score to 8-2.

After two tough losses in Naperville, the Thunder looked to start off their series against the Augustana Vikings with a win, but they were unsuccessful, falling to Augustana in a close game 8-6. Wheaton scored first in the fifth inning with three runs, but Augustana’s back-to-back four-run innings in the fifth and sixth gave them too big of a lead for the Thunder to overcome. Even after Wheaton added three more runs in the eighth, Augustana was able to hold them off through the end of the game and emerge with the 8-6 win.

One bright side of the game was that the Thunder bats looked to come back to life after two quiet games. Eight of Wheaton’s starters contributed to their eleven total hits, while freshman Jacob Garrity led the way with three hits and two RBIs.

Games two and three proved more advantageous for the Thunder, as they were able to overcome their game one loss and respond with two wins to take the series overall. In the second game, Wheaton was the team that came out hot first, scoring five runs and forcing the Augustana starter out of the game before one out could be recorded in the first inning.

It was Augustana, however, who was more consistent out of the gate, scoring three runs in the first inning, four in the second and one in the third to get out to an early 8-5 lead. Augustana’s next and last three runs of the game came in the bottom of the sixth, and were all unearned, but Wheaton had begun their rally in the top of the sixth, and it was a rally that would span three innings and result in nine runs.

Two runs apiece for Wheaton in the sixth and seventh innings brought the score to 11-9, still in Augustana’s favor, but in the eighth inning the Thunder would take the lead to finish the game. Five hits and two walks, including a three-RBI double by junior Clay Morrison, gave Wheaton five runs in the inning, enough to bring the score to 14-11, where it would stay, as senior reliever Nick Johnson shut down the Vikings in the bottom of the ninth.

Game three was the closest game of the series, with Wheaton coming out on top in the 7-6 nailbiter. Augustana scored two runs in the top of the first, but Wheaton responded with three of their own in the bottom of the frame, getting one when freshman Joel Pierce drew a walk with the bases loaded, and two more when Meyer’s single to left field brought in Morrison and senior Johnny Peltz.

Augustana added two more runs in the next two innings to give themselves the 4-3 lead, but Wheaton would regain that lead in the bottom of the fifth when Peltz hit his first homerun of the season, a two-run blast that brought in Brittain. Augustana, however, fought their way back in the sixth with two runs on a steal of home and an RBI triple, bringing the score to 6-5.

In the bottom of the seventh, Pierce, representing the tying run, scored on a wild pitch and then Garrity singled home Meyer for the final run of the game. Junior reliever Luke Kram took care of the Vikings from the mound in the eighth, and Johnson came in in the ninth to turn out the lights on the series, allowing no runs or hits to give Wheaton the 7-6 victory.

Wheaton’s game against Millikin University, originally scheduled for April 3, has now been postponed until further notice due to inclement weather. As a result, Wheaton will continue conference play against Illinois Wesleyan College, whom they will face in a three-game series beginning on Thursday, April 5, and finishing on Saturday, April 7. Game one will be played on Thursday at 1 p.m. in Bloomington, Ill., and then the Thunder will return home to Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream for games two and three, which will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

 

Strong Wheaton Invitational I for Thunder baseball

March 29 2018

The Wheaton Thunder Baseball team capped off the second part of the Wheaton Invitational this weekend with a 6-8 loss to Concordia College (MN) in the opening game on Friday, and two wins on Saturday against Dominican University and Beloit College, 5-2 and 9-3, respectively. The Thunder’s record now sits at 9-6 as they prepare to begin their CCIW schedule on Wednesday.

In their lone game on Saturday, the Thunder were not able to hold onto the lead they gained early on against the Concordia Cobbers. With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, junior Ben Brittain doubled to give Wheaton their first runner of the game, and then was quickly brought home on a triple by junior Clay Morrison that also scored senior Johnny Peltz, who had reached on a walk. The Thunder added another run in the inning when freshman Joel Pierce’s RBI single brought in Morrison.

Though Concordia scored one run in the top of the second, Wheaton added onto their lead with a run in the third inning on an RBI triple by senior Seth Meyer, and another run in the fourth, when junior Nick Mailman was plated on single by freshman Jesse Welch after stealing second and third base following a walk.

Despite the Thunder’s 5-1 lead, the Cobbers fought back, beginning with a two-run homer in the sixth that brought them to within two runs. An inning later, they tacked on four runs with a string of hits, and then added their final run in the top of the eighth inning, to bring the score to 8-5.

In the bottom of the eighth Wheaton looked to regain their lead, but could only manage to add one run, which came when pinch runner Luke Roudabush, a freshman, scored on an RBI double by junior Evan Ogden.

After holding Concordia in the top of the ninth, the Thunder couldn’t muster a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, and were defeated 8-6.

Junior Michael McCraith started the game pitching and went six innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with six strikeouts. Senior reliever Nick Johnson took the loss, despite logging only one inning of work, in which he allowed two runs on four hits.

Though it was the Thunder’s opponent, Dominican University, who jumped out to an early lead in the first game of day two of the invitational, the Thunder managed a come-from-behind victory of their own and took the game 5-2.

Senior pitcher Ty Hoeksma (4-1) started on the hill, and in spite of allowing two runs in the first three innings, he settled down and delivered a sound performance, allowing only those two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of work.

Although Dominican scored a run in the first and third innings, it wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth inning that the Thunder’s bats began to roll. Wheaton put up three runs in the inning, beginning with an RBI single by Welch that scored freshman Graham Core, who had also reached on a single. Mailman later scored on a wild pitch after reaching on an error, and Welch –– who had singled earlier –– was brought home by the fielding error of a grounder to second base by Ogden.

The Thunder bolstered their 3-2 lead with two more runs, one of which came on an RBI double by Welch in the sixth, and the other on an RBI single by freshman Jacob Garrity in the seventh.

Welch then entered to pitch in the seventh and threw two scoreless innings, while Johnson took care of Dominican in the ninth to earn his third save of the year and end the game.

Game two of the Saturday doubleheader was also all Wheaton, as the Thunder earned their second win of the day against Beloit College 9-3.

A walk by Mailman and a double by Welch opened the game, and both subsequently scored to give Wheaton an early 2-0 lead. The next four innings were quiet, as both team’s pitchers were able to avoid allowing any runs, a trend that ended in the top of the sixth when Beloit broke through to tie the game at 2-2.

It took the Thunder no time to respond, though, as they took back the lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and four more in the seventh, in a two-inning stretch that included singles by Garrity and Mailman, and a single and a double by Peltz.

After no scoring in the eighth inning, Beloit managed one run in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t near enough to overcome the Thunder, who cruised to a 9-3 victory.

Starting pitcher Grant Howell, a sophomore, pitched nicely in his first start of the year, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing only two hits with five strikeouts. Despite his stellar effort, it was freshman A.J. Dhus who earned the win on the mound for his clean 1.2 inning performance in which he allowed no runs on one hit and a walk.

Coming off of two strong wins the Thunder will open up CCIW conference play with a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 28 against North Central College in Naperville. Game one begins at 12:30 p.m. and game two will follow at 3 p.m.

 

Strong Wheaton Invitational I for Thunder baseball

March 22 2018

The Thunder Baseball team opened up their home season at Lee Pfund Stadium this weekend, winning their game on Friday and earning a split in their double header on Saturday. Wheaton’s record moves to 7-5 after their wins against St. Mary’s (MN) and Alma College, and their loss to Aurora University.

Friday’s game against St. Mary’s was a tight matchup, with Wheaton ending up on top in the 3-2 win. The first three innings of the game were scoreless, but both teams managed to get a run on the board in the fourth. Wheaton’s came on a single to centerfield by senior Seth Meyer that allowed junior Ben Brittain –– who had reached first base on a walk –– to score.

St. Mary’s added another run in the sixth, giving them the 2-1 lead, but the Thunder responded in their half of the seventh to tie the game. This run came after junior Clay Morrison tripled with one out in the inning, and was then brought home on a sacrifice fly by freshman Jacob Garrity.

St. Mary’s would not score again, and the Thunder added the final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI walk with the bases loaded, by senior Johnny Peltz.

Junior Michael McCraith got the start and pitched well for the Thunder, yet earned a no-decision after seven strong innings of work, in which he allowed only one earned run on four hits. Senior Nick Johnson earned the win by pitching two spotless innings in relief, allowing no hits or runs with one strikeout.

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader was a comfortable 9-1 win for the Thunder against Alma College. The game began with a bang, as the Thunder came out early with three runs in the bottom of the first. After junior Nick Mailman led off with a walk, he stole second and was moved around to third on a single by Brittain. Peltz then singled to bring Mailman home for the first run of the game. Brittain and Peltz would both later score on a throwing error by Alma to give Wheaton the 3-0 lead.

This lead led to more runs in the second and fourth innings, and by the time Alma scored their lone run of the game in the top of the fifth, Wheaton was leading 5-1. The Thunder would add four more runs in the game, two each in the sixth and eighth innings. Freshmen Jesse Welch and Graham Core both doubled in the sixth, while Mailman and Brittain both recorded extra-base hits in the eighth to further the lead.

Senior Ty Hoeksma earned his third win of the year on a stellar seven-inning outing in which he allowed only one run on three hits.

Wheaton’s fortunes would change in game two, however, as the Thunder were soundly defeated by Aurora University, 10-5. While Wheaton scored first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, a six-run fourth inning by Aurora put them in a hole that was too deep to climb out of. Aurora backed up one big inning with another when they scored three in the fifth, and by that time, the Thunder were down 10-1.

Wheaton wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, as they picked up runs in the fifth and sixth on a Peltz single and a fielder’s choice by Morrison, respectively. In the bottom of the ninth, Wheaton looked to start a rally with a run on a single by freshman Joel Pierce, but it turned out to be too little, too late, as back-to-back putouts ended the game.

The Thunder look to bounce back from the loss in the second weekend of the Wheaton Invitational, which continues at Lee Pfund Stadium. This weekend will see the Thunder face off against Concordia College (MN) on Friday, and Dominican University (IL) and Beloit College (WI) in a double header on Saturday. Friday’s game begins at 5 p.m., and Saturday’s double header begins with game one at 2 p.m. and game two to follow at 5 p.m.

 

No break for the baseball team over spring break

March 15 2018

Like many Wheaton College students, the Wheaton Thunder Baseball team took a trip this spring break. The team traveled to sunny Tucson, Arizona, where they played seven games in the Tucson Invitational. Over the course of eight days, the Thunder went 4-3 on the road, moving their overall record to 5-4 on the season.

The Thunder began the Invitational on Mar. 3 with a double header against Howard Payne University and Rockford University. In the first game, Howard Payne came out hot, scoring early and often. With Howard Payne scoring 13 runs in the first seven innings –– compared to Wheaton’s two –– even the Thunder’s late charge of seven runs in the final two innings wasn’t enough, and resulted in a 13-9 loss. In game two, however, Wheaton’s offense bounced back with nine runs on nine hits. Behind a stellar seven-inning, 14-strikeout, zero-walk pitching performance from junior Michael McCraith, the Thunder were able to hold Rockford to three runs, giving McCraith the 9-3 win.

After a day off, the Thunder faced off against Wabash College and quickly fell 15-4 in a seven-inning game shortened by the runrule. Wabash’s offense rolled as they put runs on the board in every inning of the game. Their 15 runs came on 12 hits with three errors by the Thunder, whose record dropped to 2-3.

The Thunder didn’t stay down long, though, as they were able to show their resilience a day later in a 9-8 win against North Central University (Minn.). Wheaton’s bats came alive during the game as they got out to a comfortable 7-0 lead after three innings. However, North Central didn’t go down easily, and they scored runs in four consecutive innings to bring the score to 9-5 by the bottom of the seventh. After no more runs by Wheaton, North Central began the bottom of the ninth with three quick runs, but senior reliever Nick Johnson forced a ground ball to freshman third baseman Graham Core, who stepped on the bag and fired across the diamond to junior first baseman Clay Morrison for a game-ending double play, giving Wheaton the 9-8 victory.

After two days of rest, Wheaton continued to play well, taking both games of their double header against Bethany Lutheran College with wins of 12-5 and 5-4, respectively. Game one was shortened by the run rule as the Thunder scored in every inning. Wheaton’s 12 hits were spread among eight different players, and the team was led by junior Ben Brittain, who recorded four hits of his own. Game two was a come from behind victory, as the Thunder found themselves down 4-2 until the sixth inning, where Evan Ogden’s two-run homer tied the game. Wheaton would score one more run in the sixth, which was enough to give them the 5-4 victory and give senior pitcher Ty Hoeksma his second win of the season, with reliever Nick Johnson earning his second save.

Wheaton’s three-game win streak snapped the next day, however, as they dropped their final game of the Tucson Invitational to Cornell College 5-6. After Cornell came out with an early three-run lead, Wheaton responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Cornell extended the lead to 5-2 in the top of the seventh, but Wheaton again responded, this time with three runs, to tie the game at five. After Cornell scored a lone run in the top of the ninth, the Thunder were unable to bring a man around in the bottom half of the inning to extend the game, ending their time in Arizona with a tough loss.

The Thunder were led offensively over the trip by Ben Brittain and freshman Jesse Welch, who both tallied hits in all seven games. Brittain had 14 hits and 11 RBIs, while Welch recorded 10 hits and five RBIs. For the pitchers, Michael McCraith (2-1) got wins in both of his outings while Ty Hoeksma (2-1) and junior Caleb Selk (1-0) also added a win each. Nick Johnson recorded two saves.

The team will begin a six-game homestand this weekend with the Wheaton Invitational, held at Lee Pfund Stadium, where they will face Saint Mary’s University on Friday and Alma College and Aurora University in a double header on Saturday.

 

Baseball season starts with a split road trip to Alabama

March 1 2018

The Thunder Baseball team opened up their season this weekend with a split in their doubleheader at #7-ranked Birmingham-Southern College. After a 5-3 loss in game one, the Thunder bounced back nicely with a commanding 12-2 victory in the nightcap to begin their year with a record of 1-1.

In game one, both teams remained scoreless after the first two innings until Wheaton took the lead in the top of the third with their first run of the year on a one-out single by senior Johnny Peltz.

The Panthers of Birmingham-Southern responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the third, and after no scoring in the fourth, the Panthers broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.

After another run by the Panthers in the seventh, the Thunder looked to close the 5-1 gap with a valiant charge in the top of the eighth. Junior Nick Mailman led off the inning with a triple and was quickly brought home on Johnny Peltz’s second RBI single of the night. Joel Pierce, who reached first base on a walk, then scored on Ben Brittain’s single up the middle to bring the score to 5-3. However, after a pitching change by the Panthers, the Thunder rally stalled as two strikeouts ended the inning. Wheaton’s fate in game one was sealed as they were unable to engineer a comeback in the top of the ninth.

Game two of the doubleheader offered a chance for the Thunder to showcase their offensive prowess, as they tallied 12 runs on 19 hits.

Although it was Birmingham-Southern who took an early one-run lead in the bottom of the first,  the Thunder responded with a massive seven-run inning in the top of the second. Over the course of the inning, Wheaton forced a pitching change, batted through their order, and at one point strung together six consecutive hits.

Birmingham attempted to recover with a run in the third, but Wheaton quickly countered with a run of their own in the sixth. It was then in the top of the eighth when the Thunder squashed any notion of a comeback with another big inning, this time adding four runs on four hits, including doubles by Johnny Peltz and Sam Reichert and a two-RBI single by Connor Hartman.

Birmingham-Southern would not score again as the Thunder rode to victory on the strength of their bats and a strong pitching performance by senior Ty Hoeksma, who earned his first win of the year, going five innings while allowing only five hits and two runs.

Wheaton was led over the doubleheader by the trio of Peltz, Mailman and Reichert, who all tallied four hits over the two contests. Peltz and Brittain also both added three RBIs apiece, while freshman Joel Pierce scored four runs in the two games.

Wheaton will continue their season over the weekend at the Tucson Invitational in Arizona, where they will play a total of seven games from March 3-10. The invitational begins on Saturday, March 3, where Wheaton will face off against Howard Payne University and Rockford University in a doubleheader.

 

Baseball Recap

Over the course of this year, both men’s and women’s tennis teams have experienced impressive amounts of success. For the women, these results have become a usual occurrence. For the men, however, a season that has the team on the cusp of a CCIW tournament championship is not as much of a foregone conclusion.

Both teams’ losses have come outside of their CCIW matches. For the women, the team is 8-0 in CCIW play and 19-2 overall. The men are 5-0 in the CCIW and 12-7 throughout the season.

Since losing two matches straight in Oberlin, Ohio a few weeks ago, the men’s team has been firing on all cylinders, winning four straight series of matches. The women’s team has been similarly unstoppable by winning five straight games, last losing down south in Orlando, Flor. The women’s dominance has been perfectly exemplified by the fact that they have only lost two matches out of the past five match series, or 45 matches.

For the men’s team, senior Justin Ancona has been the team’s backbone, winning two CCIW Men’s Tennis Player of the Week awards. Sophomore Dane Paulsen and senior Matt Steiner also have stepped up and played large roles for the Thunder. Junior Katie Park has been on top of her game for the women’s team as the #1 singles, as well as senior Emily Jones and junior Miranda Kay.

Overall, the men’s team has much to be proud of, due to the team’s rocky start at the beginning of the season, which saw the team struggle to an initial record of 0-3.

“We have played an extremely difficult schedule this year including matches against a number of nationally ranked teams early on,” junior Karl Wenzel explained. “The team has done a great job rising to the occasion and is better because of it.”

Both men’s and women’s teams believe they have the talent and chemistry to be able to win their respective CCIW tournaments, which would give each team automatic NCAA tournament bids.

After losing to Carthage in the final match of the CCIW tournament last year by a score of 5-3 to Carthage, the men’s team is out for redemption during this year’s go-around. For the women, the team hopes to defend its 2016 CCIW title.

The thoughts of both teams can be summed up with the words of Wenzel, “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to compete for a berth in the national tournament and believe we have both the talent and the depth to win the CCIW.”