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.

 

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