WESTFIELD, IND. -- In its first action since returning from Florida, the Trine University baseball team came away with a two-game split against Loras (Iowa) College in neutral site doubleheader in Westfield, Ind. at Grand Park Sports Complex. The Thunder fell to the Duhawks in game one, 10-3, but took game two, 5-1.
In game one, Loras outhit Trine, 15-6, and got the scoring started with a run in the top of the second inning. Loras (10-3) then took control of the game in the third with five runs that included a two-RBI double and a RBI-triple. The Duhawks went on to add two more runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth to lead, 9-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Trine (6-4) put itself in an excellent scoring opportunity with bases load and no outs. Senior Colton Conn (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill) plated a run on a base-hit that found its way through the right side to make the score, 9-1. But the possible momentum changer stalled as a double play, followed by a groundout allowed Loras to end the half of the inning without allowing anymore damage, keeping the score at 9-1.
Loras got the run back in the top of the seventh with a run of its own to extend the margin back out to nine runs, 10-1, heading into the bottom of the frame. The final runs in the game were scored on a double that came off the bat of Trine senior Kevin O'Malley (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Central) that plated freshman Shayne Devine (Valparaiso, Ind./Portage) and junior Jacob Heller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Prairie Heights). The runs came with two outs and Loras was able to record the final out before any more Thunder runs could score, resulting in the 10-3 final.
O'Malley and Conn combined for four of Trine's six hits with both finishing two-of-three overall. O'Malley also added the two RBI and Conn tacked on a RBI to go along with his two hits.
At pitcher, senior Ben Wheaton (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett Catholic Central) started the game for Trine and pitched four and two-thirds innings. He allowed eight runs, two earned, and struck out five batters. He was also credited with the loss and is now 1-2 for the season. Freshman Ben West (Stanton, Mich./Central Montcalm) pitched the final two-and-a-third innings and gave up two runs on six hits and had two strikeouts.
In game two, Loras set itself up with bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the first inning. The Trine defense then stepped up and kept the Duhawks from crossing homeplate by getting Loras to record three straight outs, that included a pair of strikeouts, to keep the game scoreless.
Both teams tallied seven hits in the game which Trine turned into five runs, beginning with a pair of scores in the top of the third inning that came on a wild pitch with runners on second and third base and was followed by a RBI-single by Heller to make the score, 2-0.
Loras cut the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but the Thunder answered the run in the fifth thanks to a double by Heller that scored junior Zachary Schulte (Sterling Heights, Mich./Warren Cousino) who led off the inning with a single.
Trine tacked on two more runs in the sixth on a two-run single by Schulte with two outs and increased the lead to four runs, 5-1. Following a one-two-three bottom of the sixth, the Duhawks had one more chance in the seventh with runners at every base and only one out. In a repeat of the first inning, the Trine defense held firm with freshman relief pitcher Adam Wheaton (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett Catholic Prep) recording back-to-back strikeouts to end the game and gave the Thunder the 5-1 victory.
Three Thunder players recorded multi-hit games that included Schulte who went two-of-three with two RBI and a run scored. Heller also tallied a pair of hits in three at-bats and also drove in two runs. Sophomore Thomas Rivet (Howell, Mich./Hartland) rounded out the hit leaders with a two-of-four effort and also scored a run.
Sophomore pitcher Mike Gustin (Hudson, Ind./Prairie Heights) got the win for Trine after going five complete innings, allowing just an unearned run on five hits and had five strikeouts. Adam Wheaton pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs and struck out three batters to get the save.
Trine is scheduled to travel to Ada, Ohio for a non-conference single game against Ohio Northern University on Tuesday, Mar. 20. The first pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.