In a four-game series with Taylor University over the weekend, the Foresters (22-21, 11-13) narrowly missed completing the sweep winning the first three games 5-0, 13-5 and 4-0, but dropping the fourth 6-5 in eight innings.
In game one, Drew Taylor threw a complete game shutout to help get the Foresters off to a good start. He scattered seven hits over the seven innings and struck out four. A Blake Hindsley solo shot over the right field fence in the second was the only scoring done in the game until HU put the game out of reach with four in the top of the seventh. Andy Janzen delivered the key hit in the inning, a two-out bases-loaded single that drove in all three runners. Korey Grow led the Foresters with a 3-4 performance at the plate and one RBI.
Both teams scored a run to open game two. The Foresters then took advantage of three hits and two Trojan errors to push five across in the top of the third, but Taylor answered back with three in their half of the inning. In the top of the fifth, HU used four hits and another Trojan error to add three more. Taylor cut it to 9-5 with a run in the sixth, but again HU sealed the win with four in its final at-bat. Keith Benbow had a hot bat collecting three singles and a double to lead the HU offense, and Austan Kas drove in four runs in the game. Josh Clark went the distance for the Foresters in the win. He gave up five runs on eight hits and he struck out five.
To open Saturday's doubleheader, Michael Dalton threw a four-hit gem to shut out Taylor 4-0. HU's offense did all of its damage in the bottom of the third. Benbow was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a one-out single by Janzen. Hindsley singled to right to score Benbow and Levi Sell tripled to drive in Janzen and Hindsley. Adam Farris then singled to knock in Sell to complete the scoring. Hindsley was the lone Forester with two hits in the game.
The final game of the series turned into a seesaw battle. HU took the early lead when Kas homered in the bottom of the first. Kas then drove in the Foresters' second run in the third with a single up the middle. Two Taylor hits and two throwing errors by third baseman Michael Dalton allowed the Trojans to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth. The Foresters rallied to tie it at 4-4 in their half of the frame, but Taylor reclaimed the lead with a run in the top of the seventh. Again HU responded and knotted it at 5-5 on a Hindsley single to left, forcing the game into extra innings. Another throwing error in the top of the eighth, this time by Janzen, led to the Trojans' sixth unearned run of the game. Again the Foresters tried to respond and looked to have tied the game when Taylor's shortstop appeared to pull the first baseman off the bag with his throw, but the umpire called Kas out at first for the final out of the game nullifying the run scored by Dalton.
Dalton, who had come on in relief of Grow in the seventh, took the loss for HU. He allowed a run on a hit and two walks while striking out two.
The Foresters (22-21, 11-13) must now await the result of this evening's game between Grace and Indiana Wesleyan to know whether they will have a spot in the MCC Tournament. If Grace wins the game, HU will be in, if IWU wins, the Foresters' season will be complete.
Side note: The MCC released the baseball post-season awards today. Forester outfielder Korey Grow and third baseman Andy Janzen were First Team selections. Forester pitcher Josh Clark was an Honorable Mention selection. Spring Arbor pitcher Jesse Bachman was the named the MCC Player of the Year and Greg Roberts of St. Francis was the Coach of the Year.