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.

 

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