HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The 4th-seeded Forester baseball team went 1-1 on the day but kept their tourney title hopes alive Monday afternoon by knocking 5th-seeded University of Saint Francis out of the tournament, 8-5, in an elimination game. HU’s day started with top-seeded Mount Vernon Nazarene University sending them into the consolation bracket with an 8-3 loss.
Against MVNU, it was as disastrous fifth inning that did the Foresters in. After the first two Cougar batters were hit by a pitch, the visitors hammered out five hits and took advantage of an error and walk to plate five runs en route to seizing a 5-2 lead that would never really be challenged.
Up until that point, the Foresters seemed to be building momentum. After loading the bases in the third but coming up empty on the scoreboard, Huntington pieced together a two-run inning in the fourth behind RBI-singles by Michael Crowley and Austin Drummond to jump out to a 2-0 advantage.
Huntington bounced back from their fifth inning woes by getting one back in the top of the sixth when Dylan Henricks ripped a double that gave plenty of time for pinch runner Michael Kempton to touch home but it was all MVNU after that as they added three insurance runs in the eighth to run away with the win.
Henricks, Drummond and TJ Lindstrand picked up two hits apiece to account for all but two of the HU’s hits.
Starting pitcher John Ripke took the loss for Huntington. He tossed 4.1 innings and gave up seven hits and five runs before Brock Gower and Tyson Dietrich shared time in the circle over the final 3.2 innings.
With less than an hour to regroup, the Foresters took the field again to face Saint Francis who they had outlasted 3-2 in 13 innings in the opening round on Saturday. Same result, just fewer innings as HU slugged out 15 hits to USF’s 12 to win by three in nine and send USF packing.
The Cougars jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the first four innings but the Forester methodically took charge by scoring at least one run in the next four innings to claim a permanent advantage by the sixth.
Drummond collected two hits with his first a run-scoring double in the second to plate his team’s first run. Lindstrand also picked up a pair of hits that included a two-run triple in the bottom of the fifth. Crowley and Marc Bowers each finished with a sacrifice fly to account for two more HU runs while Brock Gower and Shea Beauchamp logged RBI-singles in the seventh and eighth respectively.
Gower finished with two hits as did Blake Ayers and Avery Sneed while Henricks went 3-for-5 at the plate.
Three different Foresters took the mound with Tyson Dietrich picking up the win, his fifth of the season. He relieved starting pitcher Blake Hohlbein and pitched 4.2 innings during which he gave up four hits, one run and a walk while striking out two. Bowers tossed the final 1.1 innings to retire four of the five batters he faced.
HU (28-23) squares off against Mount Vernon again tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.