Baseball Team Takes Two From Albion - Hits 20-Win Plateau for Second Straight Year
Thursday, May 07, 2009
By Chaz Amidon
GRAND RAPIDS—Senior Day at Calvin Field couldn’t have been sweeter for the Calvin baseball team.
Nate Pocock went 6-for-7 at the plate, Chris Blacklidge belted a solo homerun in Game Two and the Knights’ offense engineered a 27-run afternoon in a doubleheader sweep of Albion, 12-3 and 15-1.
“We wanted to send off our seniors the right way at home, and we really did that,” said Calvin coach John Sparks. “All our guys played well, but it was highlighted by the seniors.”
Calvin’s four active seniors—Pocock, Blacklidge, Kyle Cousins and Jason May—combined to hit 7-for-11 (.636) in Game One and totaled 12 RBIs and three extra-base hits throughout. Pocock and Cousins, each projected to bolster Calvin’s starting rotation at the beginning of the season, went 6-for-6 in the first game, where the Knights tacked on at least one run in each of the first five innings.
“We had great starting pitching, fantastic defense, and we got the bats rolling early,” said Pocock. “It’s just nice for this team.”
“We’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity and I think just now we’re hitting our stride. It feels good that this team has accomplished that.”
Pocock, the MIAA Pitcher of the Year in 2008, recorded five RBIs and ripped a pair of doubles on Thursday. But he did step onto the rubber in Game One—for the final out.
He replaced Peter Steiner (4-3), who allowed just five hits in 6 2/3 innings work, in the seventh innings and, after giving up a single to Albion’s John Harris, fanned Craig Hitcock for what may have been his last collegiate strikeout.
“I think, all around, it’s difficult to not be able to help the team in that way,” said Pocock, who, like Cousins, has suffered from tendonitis in his throwing arm. “The other guys have been really supportive. More importantly, we’re a voice to the younger pitchers.”
Pocock currently leads Calvin in doubles (13) while maintaining the second-best batting average (.357). Blacklidge’s homer in third inning of Game Two was his team-best sixth of the year. It sailed over the left field wall just two batters after Matt Schepel blasted his fifth home run this season, a two-run shot that gave Calvin a commanding 11-0 lead.the Calvin career list for hits (132) and is now third in career runs scored (94) and career home runs (14).
The Knights’ 15-hit performance in Game Two marked their best offensive outing in league play, not to mention their sixth straight game reaching double-digits in hits.
“There’s really no greater thing, as a senior, to go out there and score a bunch of runs,” said Blacklidge, who leads Calvin with 35 RBIs. “The last week or so, the last two series, we’ve hit the ball really well. It’s great to see our potential fulfilled. It’s just too bad we didn’t start sooner.”
Steiner picked up his 12th collegiate win in Game One, and Keith Spoelstra (4-3) finally rose above .500 on the mound with a victory in Game Two. Spoelstra allowed five hits, struck out four, and pitched out of three straight bases-loaded jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings.the second-best Calvin single-season record for RBI’s as he has 35 with the record 38 set by Schepel last year.
“He’s continued to work on the mental aspect of his game, the mental toughness, and there’s some improvement there,” said Sparks of Spoelstra, who went 5-1 in 2008, his freshman season.
Derick Vargas and Rob Kool both aided in standing up Steiner’s win, where the Britons’ lone run came in the seventh inning after Sam Prentice crushed a solo homerun to right-centerfield.
Calvin (21-17, 18-8) is now three games ahead of Olivet for second place in the MIAA standings. Calvin will travel to Albion tomorrow for its final two games of the regular season. Olivet has four games remaining – all against league champion Adrian. The Knights have now strung together back-to-back 20-win seasons—they were 32-10 in last year’s league championship season—for the third time in school history. Calvin won 20-plus games from 2000-2002. The 2009 season is also the sixth 20-win season in school history.
CALVIN BASEBALL SEASON STATISTICAL NOTES….Matt Schepel recently became Calvin’s career leader in runs batted in…heading into Friday’s twinbill at Albion, Schepel has 91 career runs batted in. Calvin senior Chris Blacklidge is currently tied for fourth in career RBI’s with 79…Blacklidge also recently became the Calvin career leader in doubles (30)…With Thursday’s performance, Schepel also became the Calvin single-season record holder for runs scored in a single season as he has 39 heading into Friday’s doubleheader…senior Kyle Cousins is currently ranked fourth on the Calvin single-season list with 36… ..with 13 doubles, Calvin senior Nate Pocock has tied the Calvin single-season record for two-base hits established a year ago by Blacklidge…Blacklidge has tied the second-best Calvin single-season record for RBI’s as he has 35 with the record 38 set by Schepel last year…Schepel has also moved into sixth place on the Calvin career list for hits (132) and is now third in career runs scored (94) and career home runs (14).