Baseball Splits With Kalamazoo
Monday, March 30, 2009
By Chaz Amidon
GRAND RAPIDS – The Knights routed Kalamazoo 13-1 in Monday’s opening game, but the Hornets foiled Calvin’s final-inning comeback in Game Two as Jake Hansen, a pinch hitter, had a walk-off single to give Kalamazoo a 10-9 win.
In the second frame of a doubleheader that was relocated to Calvin Field, Calvin conjured a five-run seventh inning to even the score at 9-9 before Hansen’s heroics lifted the Hornets to their first league win of the season.
“That seventh inning was great, but we waited way, way too late to have that kind of focus and intensity we needed the entire game,” said Calvin coach John Sparks.
Matt Schepel (Grand Rapids) led a Knights squad that batted a combined .366 in both games, going 3-for-3 from the plate in Game One en route to driving in four runs.
Chris Blacklidge (Comstock Park) went 3-for-6, Tyler Berger (Grand Rapids) went 3-for-8, and six different Knights recorded multi-hit games throughout the afternoon.
Berger and Nate Pocock (Wayland, Mass.) each knocked RBI doubles in the seventh inning of Game Two, helping to erase a five-run deficit that was previously built when Kalamazoo strung together eight unanswered runs over a span of three innings.
“It shows a lot that we could manufacture that comeback,” said Blacklidge, who leads Calvin with four homeruns. “We have some things to be positive about but ultimately we’re pretty upset.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Brett Cavanaugh (Muskegon) allowed a single to Kalamazoo’s David Kamerman, the eventual winning run, and walked Eddie Barclay. Robbie Kool (Grand Rapids) replaced Cavanaugh out of the bullpen, and faced just one batter – Hansen, who lined a single to shallow right field to score Kamerman from second base.
Calvin tied the score at 9-9 in the top of the inning when Scott Tipton (Stow, Ohio) had a sacrifice fly to right field to score Berger, but an infield error sent Jason May (Chicago, Ill.) home when he originally halted at third base.
“We were pretty excited after that inning,” said Schepel. “We went out there with a lot of confidence and to give it up after coming back is tough. We’ve got to learn from it.”
Calvin claimed the season series against Kalamazoo, 3-1, and is 7-1 against the Hornets throughout the past two seasons.
“Give credit to Kalamazoo,” said Sparks. “They’re a team that can come out and swing it a little bit, and they did the second game. They were ready to play despite getting beat the first game.”
The Knights’ offense erupted in Game One, engineering ten runs in the fourth inning alone. Blacklidge, Calvin’s current batting leader (.463), poked a pair of RBI-singles in the inning, Matt Dodrill (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) had a two-RBI single, and Kalamazoo committed four costly errors – mostly infield gaffes – that led to the Knights’ ten-run stretch.
“We’re having some trouble in the early innings getting going,” said Sparks. “We have to find a way to get runs early. If we can do that, we’ll be okay. We’ll have those moments of greatness where we explode for runs, but we need the consistency.”
Calvin was 15-for-39 (.385) in Game One, where Schepel and Jake Van Alten (Douglas) each totaled three hits.
“We hit well today,” said Schepel. “We came up big in a few clutch situations, especially in that last inning. They handed us a few runs, too, and there’s always room for improvement.”
Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, N.J.) picked up his first win of the year in Game One. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowed just one run and struck out seven. Adam Van Opstall (Grandville) and Cavanaugh each pitched in relief.
Cavanaugh was handed the loss in Game Two, but it was Zach Thomas (Bradenton, Fla.) who lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his second start this season. Jeff Groenwold (Chicago, Ill.) and Van Opstall threw for a combined 1 2/3 innings in relief.
Calvin will now host Hope on Thursday (April 2) before heading to Holland on Saturday (April 4) to wrap up its season series with the Dutch. The Knights (6-8, 3-1) are currently tied with Adrian for first place in the MIAA.