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.