Oh it’s good to be home. After a season opening southern road trip in which the St. Catharine College baseball team lost a number of games in the opponent’s final at-bat, Luther Bramblett’s Bat Pats enjoyed some late inning success themselves with two walk-off wins in a sweep of four weekend home games.
The Bat Pats, now 10-6 overall and owners of a nine game winning streak, started the weekend with a 7-3 win over Huntington University (Ind.). They again topped Huntington Saturday by an 8-6 score. Then Sunday they swept a twin bill from Northwestern Ohio University, both wins of the walk-off variety, when they won 2-1 and 7-6.
“That is exciting baseball,” said Bramblett after notching his 400th career victory earlier in the week against Kentucky State.
The Bat Pats spotted the visiting Foresters two runs in the top of the first inning but quickly came back with three runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead for good in the 7-3 win.
Leadoff hitter Carlos Hernandez was the offensive star as the senior center fielder was 4-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. K.C. Mejia went 3-5 and Eric Standafer had one hit and two RBI’s. Eddie Rivera (3-0) pitched 7.2 innings to pick up the win. The junior who transferred this year from Fullerton College allowed eight hits and three runs. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. Matt Wagner worked the final 1.1 innings, allowing no runs on one hit while fanning two.
St. Catharine gave the Foresters (0-2) an even greater advantage in the second game of the series, played Saturday, when they watched the visitors take a 6-0 lead in the third inning. But the Bat Pats sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning when they scored all of their runs in the 8-6 victory. The big blow in the inning was a three-run double by C.J. Englestad that gave the Bat Pats a 7-6 lead. Englestad later scored on a squeeze bunt by Mejia to complete the scoring.
Hernandez, Joey Xavier and Adrian Garcia had two hits each in the 11-hit Bat Pats’ attack.Starting pitcher Andrew Nelson allowed all six runs, on seven hits, in 2.2 innings. Bruce Tolliver (1-2) got the victory with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief in which he struck out two and walked three. Cory Klinger picked up his first save of the season as he retired the side in order in the seventh inning, recording two strikeouts.
Sunday’s opener against Northwestern Ohio was a classic pitching duel. Racers' starter Pichi Torres and SC starter Dylan Shoffner each gave up just one through six innings. Shoffner, a freshman southpaw from Central Hardin High School, allowed three hits with three walks and seven K’s and allowed the one run that was unearned. Wagner pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a walk and a strikeout.
The Bat Pats made a winner out of Wagner with some charity from the visitors. Joey Andrada opened the final frame with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Nick Ernst. Hernandez’s sacrifice bunt moved Ernst to second and he advanced to third on a groundout. Josh Whitmer then hit a towering fly ball that Racers' center fielder Ben Smith easily got to but dropped the ball as Ernst scored the winning run.
In Sunday’s second game each team scored five runs in the first two innings before the pitching staffs settled down to throw four scoreless innings. The Racers took a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning off Cory Klinger when they scored an unearned run.
But the Bat Pats rallied again in the final at-bat for the 7-6 win. Hernandez singled to start the rally, advanced to second on an Englestad sacrifice and scored the tying run on a Mejia single. Whitmer walked and, following a wild pitch that moved both runners up, Garcia was walked intentionally to load the bases. Designated hitter Evan Smith then delivered with a sharp single up the middle that the Racers' shortstop knocked down but couldn’t get an out as Mejia scored the winning run.
Klinger (2-0) got the win in relief. Starter Ryan Rizzi gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits in three innings. He walked none and struck out six. Trenton Claunch pitched three scoreless innings with three walks and two K’s.
The final tune-ups before the conference schedule starts will be Tuesday when the Bat Pats visit Union College and Wednesday at Kentucky State, both single games. Mid-South Conference action begins Friday when Campbellsville University visits Edelen-Haydon Field for a single game at 1:00. That three game series concludes Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon. A non-conference twin bill at home Tuesday has Dakota State providing the opposition at 10:00 and a game against Brescia University at 3:00.