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Baseball Splits With Adrian - Bulldogs Clinch Outright MIAA Title

Monday, May 04, 2009

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GRAND RAPIDS—A late-inning comeback by the visiting Bulldogs of Adrian prevented Calvin from gaining a doubleheader sweep Monday afternoon. Calvin captured Monday’s opener 7-3 but fell 7-5 in game two after leading 5-1 through five innings. The game two victory allowed Adrian to clinch the outright MIAA title and earn the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA III Tournament.

Calvin’s game one win featured a contest that began on April 25 but was suspended in the bottom of the third inning by rain with the scored tied 3-3. Sophomore Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, NJ) was the original starting pitcher but after pitching seven innings on Saturday in a 7-5 win over Olivet, Spoelstra was unavailable on Monday. Pitching on just two days rest, Calvin junior Ben Sietsema (Northpointe Christian HS) was called upon and delivered with four shutout innings to gain his seventh victory of the season including his second over the Bulldogs.

Sietsema (7-2) struck out two, walked one and allowed just hits in four innings of work. He was staked to a 4-3 lead on a two-out bases-loaded walk by sophomore Matt Dodrill (Murfreesboro, TN) in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Knights then built a 7-3 lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth with freshman Tyler Berger (Grand Rapids Christian HS) rolling an infield single up the third base line with two outs that scored senior Jason May (Chicago, IL) from third. Junior Matt Schepel (Grand Rapids Christian HS) followed with a single to right and senior Nate Pocock (Wayland, MA) then belted a double off the left field wall that plated Berger and Pocock.

Sietsema then worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a leadoff single before ending the game on a flyout, strikeout and groundout. Berger went 4-for-4 in the game one win including a three-run homer that took place in the first inning back on April 25. Senior Kyle Cousins (Holland Christian HS) also went 3-for-4 with two runs scored while Schepel had a pair of hits.

In game two, Calvin received a strong pitching performance from freshman Zach Thomas (Bradenton, FL) but could not make a 5-1 lead hold up as the Bulldogs, ranked 14th nationally in batting average scored three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to gain the come-from-behind win.

Calvin built a 4-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the second and one more in the third. Calvin scored on a balk and a wild pitch by Adrian starter Jason Fryman and then picked up another run on a RBI single by freshman Jake Van Alten (Holland Christian HS). In the third, Pocock delivered a two-out RBI single to left that brough home Cousins who led off the inning with a single.

Adrian pecked away, scoring a run in the top of the fifth but the Knights answered in the bottom half on a run-scoring double by Pocock. The top of the sixth proved to be a turning point however as Adrian used a walk, an error and two hits to score three runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, Calvin (19-17, 16-8 MIAA) loaded the bases with no outs but squandered the opportunity as three straight hitters were retired on strikeouts. The Bulldogs (27-9, 21-3 MIAA) then took advantage by scoring three runs in the top of the seventh, stringing together four consecutive hits including a two-run double by senior Alex Cowart down the right-field line that gave Adrian the lead.

Pocock led off the bottom of the seventh with a single for Calvin but was erased on a double-play with Adrian relief pitcher Nick VanDike then retiring the final batter on a groundout. Pocock went 4-for-4 in the loss while Van Alten and May had two hits apiece. Sophomore Jeff Groenewold (Chicago, IL) took the loss to fall to 0-3 on the year while VanDike (3-2) picked up the win.

The Calvin/Adrian series began on April 24 with the two teams splitting the four meetings with Calvin picking up an 8-2 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Adrian on April 24 with the Bulldogs winning the second game 11-8. Calvin held the lead in all four meetings with Adrian. Two of Adrian’s three league defeats this year have also come against Calvin.

Calvin will close out its season this Thursday and Friday with a four-game series with Albion. The Knights will be bidding for their second straight 20-win season and will also be seeking a second place finish in the final MIAA standings. Calvin is currently one game ahead of third place Olivet.

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