Baseball beats Muhlenberg behind stellar pitching

By EMILIE HOFFER | April 12, 2018

B12_Baseball

COURTESY OF HOPKINSSPORTS.COM

Senior pitcher Alex Ross pitches a complete game against the Muhlenberg Mules, recording a career-high 15 strikeouts.

 

This past weekend, the Blue Jays impressed both offensively and defensively against two strong Centennial Conference opponents. To start, the Jays took on the McDaniel College Green Terror at home on Friday.

Hopkins was first on the board, scoring in the top of the first after a single from junior outfielder Tim Kutcher to lead off the game. After stealing second, Kutcher scored on a single up the middle from senior catcher Alex Darwiche.

Twice in the first two innings, the Green Terror threatened the Jays’ lead with runners on third. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, however, senior pitcher Nick Burns was on the mound. In the bottom of the second, with runners on first and third and no outs, Burns retired the next three batters, striking out two to end McDaniel’s chance of sending a runner home.

Senior outfielder Zach Jaffe would be the next runner to come home, pushing the Blue Jays to a 3-0 lead. After Jaffe singled up the middle in the third, he scored off of a home run by Darwiche. The catcher leads the team with four home runs on the season.

The Green Terror managed to get a run in the bottom of the third. With two more runners still on base, the Blue Jays found themselves in yet another tight situation. However, Burns stranded both McDaniel runners to keep the Jays ahead 3-1.

In the fifth, the Blue Jays pushed their lead to four, sending home two more runners as Darwiche walked to force in one. Next, two straight force outs at home off a single from senior third baseman Mike Smith brought Darwiche home.

After six strong innings on the mound, Burns finished the day with seven strikeouts and no walks, surrendering only two runs to McDaniel and striking out his career 100th batter in the process.

The highlight offensively for the Blue Jays came in the seventh inning, as Hopkins sent 12 men to the plate, scoring seven runs on four hits. Both Smith and senior outfielder Chris DeGiacomo had 2-RBI singles in the seventh. Two more runs were scored on an error on a ground ball hit by Jaffe before sophomore infielder Mike Eberle singled to center, driving in the final Hopkins run of the inning to push the score to 12-2.

In the bottom of the seventh, McDaniel got three runs across and added two more in the eighth to bring the score to 12-7.

With the win in their grasp, the Blue Jays solidified their victory over the Green Terror with two more runs in the ninth, thanks to a sacrifice fly from freshman outfielder Nick Li and an RBI from sophomore catcher Bradley Martin to end the scoring for the day. The Blue Jays took the win over their Centennial opponent 14-7.

Next up for the Jays was a Centennial Conference doubleheader against the Muhlenberg College Mules at Babb Field this past Sunday. The Jays started game one with yet another impressive performance on the mound, this time from senior pitcher Alex Ross.

“The McDaniel and Muhlenberg games showed off all facets of our game: our defense, offense and pitching all were on display last week, and that’s how we were able to pull off the Conference sweep,” Ross said.

Ross dominated the competition, racking up a career-high 15 strikeouts in a complete game shutout against the Mules. The Mules managed to get one runner on third in the first inning, but Ross retired the rest of the Muhlenberg batters.

Ross struck out four consecutive batters from that point before giving up a ground out in the third. In the fourth and fifth, the Mules would not even reach first base, as Ross retired six batters with four strikeouts.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, sophomore shortstop Dillon Bowman tripled to right center before coming home to score the first and only run of the game, thanks to a double to left field from Kutcher.

In the seventh and eighth innings, Ross added four more strikeouts to his total on the day before giving up a single to right in the top of the ninth. Then, in his final strikeout of the day, Ross finalized his career-high 15 strikeouts to solidify the shutout victory, the second of his career.

“We came into this year with high expectations and goals, and that may have put some pressure on our guys to perform,” Ross said. “I think getting back into Conference and knowing that we’re the best team in the Centennial has boosted our play. Now, everyone is starting to hit their stride and play by trusting their abilities, and it’s really showing on the field and in the box scores.”

However, the action on Babb Field did not end there, as the Blue Jays were back later that Sunday afternoon for game two of their doubleheader against the Mules. This time on the mound, senior pitcher Nick Bodner threw seven strong innings, giving up only five hits, walking one and striking out two in the process.

Both teams started off game two slow offensively, combining for only three hits throughout the first three innings. Again, Kutcher would break open the scoring for the Jays, coming in off a double by Jaffe after hitting a single to lead off the third. Jaffe would advance to third off a fly from Smith before coming home thanks to a sacrifice fly by Darwiche to put the Blue Jays ahead of the Mules 2-0.

Smith came around to add another score in the fifth for the Jays on a double play ball, Jaffe approached the plate in the sixth with bases loaded. The senior hit a sacrifice fly to push the Jays’ lead to 4-0 at the bottom of the sixth.

The Blue Jays would finish their scoring for the day in the eighth inning when Martin got his third hit of the day. After sending a double down right field, Martin came home to score the Jays’ fifth and final run off a double by DeGiacomo. The two would end up leading the Jays with three hits apiece in game two against the Mules. Meanwhile, Jaffe had a team-leading two RBIs.

In the ninth, the Mules would get their only run of the day against the Jays off of junior pitcher John Donohue. Still, Hopkins completed the sweep with a dominant 5-1 win over the Mules for their third Conference victory of the weekend. The victory also marked the Jays fifth straight win, their longest win streak of the season thus far.

“Going forward we’re just going to focus on one game at a time,” Ross said. “We have the talent to win every Conference game, so making the routine plays and limiting mistakes is the main goal.”

The Jays stand 6-1 in the Centennial after another victory against the Gettysburg College Bullets Tuesday afternoon.

Head down to Babb Field at 6 p.m. to cheer on the Jays this Friday, April 13 as they once again take on the Bullets under the lights.

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