Baseball Splits With Trine at Calvin Field Thursday Afternoon
Thursday, April 29, 2010
(written by Calvin Sports Information Student Assistant Derek Neice)
With rain clouds looming ominously on the horizon of Calvin Field on Calvin College’s campus, the Knights went to work Thursday afternoon against what has been recently an extremely hot Trine Thunder team. The Knights came into the day the 5th place team in the conference with a 9-11 MIAA record, four games behind a three-way second place tie that Trine shares with Hope and Albion at 13-7. Trine took game one of the doubleheader 5-2, but the Knights managed to split the day by taking the second game 6-3 on some great pitching from a variety of Calvin pitchers.
“I thought we put together two pretty good games today,” said Calvin coach John Sparks afterwards. “The first one we were a little bit snake bitten offensively, so I thought our approach at the plate didn’t really reflect on the scoreboard.”
“I told the guys after the first one to keep that same approach,” Sparks continued, “and I was really pleased with the second game barring the top of the seventh. I thought we pitched well and I thought we executed offensively very well so that’s the kind of game we would like to replicate.”
Calvin’s Tyler Berger was the player of the day for the Knights as he homered in both games, going 3 for 7 on the day with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Peter Steiner took the mound for the Knights in the first game, coming in with 4.34 earned run average and a 4-2 record. Coming in, Steiner was 1-0 in two career starts against the Thunder with Calvin winning both of those contests. For Trine in the first half of the doubleheader, reigning MIAA pitcher of the week Elliott Gaff got the ball and got the win, his third of the year.
Before Thursday the Thunder have been arguably the hottest team in the conference as they have been winners of ten of their last twelve MIAA match-ups, scoring double-digit runs in nine of those wins. Another impressive stat is Trine’s .442 on base percentage this season, a definite indicator if the Thunder’s dominance at the plate.
This hot hitting did not take long to emerge in the first game against Calvin Thursday as the first four Thunder batters reached base. A leadoff double by right fielder Craig Rinkes followed by an error, a pair of walks and a sacrifice fly gave Trine an early 2-0 lead.
Calvin nearly answered in the bottom half of the inning after a pair of two out singles up the middle by right fielder Tyler Berger and designated hitter Andrew Bosma. Catcher Scott Tipton ripped a hard shot at Trine third baseman Ryan Smith who made the catch on the laser, ending the inning and preventing what would certainly have brought in a Calvin run.
The Knights scored a run in the third inning after some heads up running by Kyle Gurzynski, who reached on a one-out walk. A wild pitch by Gaff that was misplayed by the Trine catch got Gurzynski to second, and an overthrown ball on the same play gave just enough time to see Gurzynski make it to third. A ground ball out brought in the run.
But just as soon as Calvin brought the game within a run, the Thunder brought in another storm in the top of the fourth as they added another three runs to lead 5-1.
After a couple innings of scoreless ball for both teams, Calvin came alive again in the sixth inning as they got a leadoff home run to deep left center by Berger, his second hit of the game and fifth homer of the season. In the seventh Calvin did load the bases with two outs, bringing Berger to the plate, the man who already had a solo shot in the sixth. Berger had an exciting last at bat as he launched an (0-2) pitch to deep right, but the wind killed any chances the ball had of leaving the park and Trine got out of the inning with the 5-2 win.
Steiner took the loss, his third of the year, scattering seven hits and four walks over the full seven innings while striking out one. Gaff nabbed his third win of the year, striking out three while allowing five hits, two walks and three hit batsmen over six and two thirds innings. Trine’s Michael Sentman got the final out for his fifth save of the season
. Calvin’s Berger went 2 for 4 with a home run and a single, and Gurzynski, Bosma and Vos filled out the other three Calvin hits.
“They [Trine] made all the plays they needed to that first game,” Sparks said. “They made some tough plays on defense and sometimes you just have to tip your hats to them and say they played a great defensive game.”
Game two saw Calvin’s Eric Poencet get the start, his fourth start of the year. Coming in at 1-1 and a 3.05 earned run average, Poencet took on Trine’s Adam Schiltz, a 3-3 pitcher with a 6.86 earned run average. The pitching for the Knights went into lockdown mode in that game two as they did not allow a run in the full seven innings.
Poencet started things out really well in the first inning with two strikeouts and in the bottom half Calvin got a leadoff double from Gurzynski as he looped a nice breaking ball from Schiltz over the third baseman’s head. A subsequent sac bunt and sac fly gave Calvin the early 1-0 lead.
Calvin maintained their hitting in the second inning as they added a second run on an RBI double from catcher Matt Dodrill. A subsequent suicide squeeze bunt from left fielder Jake Van Alten brought in a third run. A fourth inning homerun from Berger, his second of the day, upped the lead to 4-0.
Calvin added a couple of runs in the bottom of the sixth off an RBI singles from freshman center fielder Ty Tos and sophomore Jake Van Alten. Calvin amassed eight hits in game two to build their six run lead going into the final frame, multi-hit games coming from
Poencet put together a great start that actually went short as he lasted only four and two thirds innings, allowing only two hits, two walks and putting up goose eggs on the scoreboard with three strikeouts. Sophomore Joe Lambers relieved Poencet in the fifth inning with two outs, going one and a third innings of scoreless ball as well. Cody Batchelor picked up an out in the seventh but gave up a hit and two walks to juice the bases for the Thunder. Calvin’s Rob Kool entered the game and skimmed a (3-1) pitch off the Trine batter’s helmet to score the first Thunder run of the game.
Kool managed to strike out Trine’s cleanup hitter Brian Hoeper with the bases still loaded, but then gave up a monster shot to deep right, a standup 2-RBI double from Brad Laucher to close the gap at 6-3. Kool then got ahead of Joe Minnich (0-2) and managed to strike him out to end the game and preserve the win for Poencet.
“Eric [Poencet] and Joe [Lambers] have come along really nicely for us, and Tyler [Berger] had a really good day at the plate,” said Sparks of some of his young talent on the team. “I would like to think the future is bright with six of our eight field players being freshmen, and so we have gone through the inevitable growing pains that go along with that process.”
“But what we’re trying to do the last ten games is to be more consistent and gain some momentum going into next year,” Sparks concluded.
The doubleheader split moves Trine and Calvin’s conference records to 14-8 and 10-12 respectively, and Calvin goes back into action against Trine Saturday as the Knights travel down south to complete the four game series. That pair of games will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday May 1.