Huntington, Ind. - After wrapping up regular season play with a sweep of Goshen College on Friday night, the Forester baseball team (18-22) turned around to host the Maple Leafs again on Saturday for the best of three MCC Play-In-Series. Behind solid pitching, HU dismantled the Maple Leafs, 8-2 and 11-1, to win the Play-In-Series series and earn a trip to the MCC conference tournament scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
Mitch Bowers was spectacular on the mound pitching a scoreless seven innings to pick up the win in game one. He gave up three hits and four walks while striking out five. Wes Carroll tossed an inning of relief and allowed one run while Derek McKinney pitched the final inning and gave up one run.
The Foresters took control early and never looked back as they scored a run in each of the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead. They added two more insurance runs in the fifth behind Justin Branock’s second RBI-hit of the game. He eventually came around to score on Marc Bowers’ single to push the lead to 5-0. HU continued to dominate at the plate piecing together four hits by Adam Christner, Blake Ayers, Branock and Jamon Hamel and taking advantage of a Maple Leaf error to touch home three more times in the sixth to blow open an 8-0 lead. The Maple Leafs would close out the game by scoring a run in each of the final two innings but it wouldn’t be enough as HU claimed the 8-2 win.
Offensively the Foresters outhit Goshen 15-5 and leading the way was Branock with three hits and three RBI. Ayers finished with two hits and scored three runs. Hammel and Josh Lanphier each picked up a pair of hits with Hammel adding two RBI. Eric Schultz also added two hits, scored two runs and drove in another.
The nightcap was just as impressive with Ethan Tribolet delivering a solid performance on the mound. In six innings of work, he gave up six hits, one run and two walks while striking out four. Brian Kirschbaum worked a scoreless two innings of relief.
In addition to hammering out 13 hits, the Foresters got plenty of help from the Maple Leafs who committed six errors that led to three unearned runs. With the score knotted at 1-1, the Foresters unleashed for four runs in the bottom of the second to take a commanding 5-1 lead. The Foresters tacked on another run in the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth before scoring three more in the final three innings on their way to an 11-1 win.
Offensively Christner paced the Foresters with three hits, two RBI and three runs scored. Hammel and Branock each finished with two hits. Hammel also scored a run and drove in three more. Ayers added a hit and three RBI.
The 4th-seeded Foresters will take on the No. 3 seed Spring Arbor University at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday in first round action of the MCC tournament at Indiana Wesleyan University.