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Baseball Team Sees Late Lead Vanish in Loss to Aquinas

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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Box Score

By Chaz Amidon

GRAND RAPIDS—Jockeying for position in the MIAA, the Knights have their sights set on Olivet and Adrian—not Aquinas, their cross-town rival in the WHAC. 

And even though Tuesday’s loss to the Saints didn’t affect Calvin’s hunt for the league title, it felt like it.

The Knights squandered a 4-1 lead and gave up a nine-run eighth inning to the Saints, who, after beating Calvin 5-3 in last year’s meeting at Fifth-Third Ballpark, notched a 10-4 win at Calvin Field.

“I don’t know how many times we’ve lost to them now in the last few years, but that’s something we’d like to change for sure,” said Calvin head coach John Sparks.

Calvin has, in fact, dropped nine straight games to Aquinas, dating back to the 2002 season.  Sparks is just 0-2 against the Saints, and seniors like Nate Pocock (Wayland, MA/Wayland) have lost all three match-ups since 2006, the year Aquinas recorded a 24-7 victory over the Knights.

“I’ve been here a while and I haven’t beaten these guys,” said Pocock.

With the bases loaded in the seventh, Pocock belted a three-run double to give Calvin a 4-1 lead in a game where the Knights compiled five hits throughout.  Pocock was one of only two players on either team to turn in a multi-hit outing, going 2-for-3.

But Aquinas responded in the eighth by cycling through 15 batters, scoring nine unanswered runs—all while stringing together five hits.  Peter Steiner (Chicago, IL/Glenbrook South) relieved Joe Lambers (Grosse Point/Grosse Point South) and lasted just two-thirds of the innings before Keith Spoelstra (Oakland, NJ/Eastern Christian) replaced him on the mound.

The Saints used four RBI-singles and a pair of run-scoring groundouts to pave the way for Aquinas’ Bryan Carey (1-3), who hurled for two scoreless innings to close out the game.

“We’ve struggled with having big games offensively and giving up big innings defensively,” said Sparks. 

The Knights shuffled through six pitchers throughout.  Zach Thomas (Bradenton, FL/Bradenton Christian) received a no-decision in his fourth start of the year.  He gave up just one unearned run in four innings of work.

Thomas (1-0), Derick Vargas (Hialeah, FL/American Senior High) and Jeff Groenewold (Chicago, IL/Timothy Christian) held Aquinas scoreless during their time on the mound.

Calvin (15-15, 12-6) is currently two games behind second-place Olivet in the MIAA standings.  The Knights will take on the Comets in a four-game series this weekend that will likely cement the second-place position before Calvin finishes its season series with Adrian next Monday.

“Step one is to try to take over second place, and we have a chance to do that with Olivet,” said Sparks.  “It’s a battle for second place this weekend.  Step two is we’ve got Adrian this Monday.  We’ll take it one step at a time and see what happens.”

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