ALBION, MICH. -- The Trine University baseball team dropped a heartbreaking, 4-3, decision in game one, but rallied to win the nightcap, 8-4, to begin a four-game set against Albion (Mich.) College in the first of two Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association doubleheaders.
In the opener, Tine (18-20, 12-14 MIAA) took the lead in the top of the first inning on a defensive error that allowed senior Kevin O'Malley (Commerce, Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Central) to score and junior Jacob Heller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Prairie Heights) to advance to third base. Albion (9-29, 7-19 MIAA) recorded the inning-ending out on the next Thunder at-bat to limit the damage to a single run, 1-0, after the first inning.
The Thunder added to their lead in the sixth when sophomore Chase Hall (Orleans, Ind./Orleans) connected on a double that scored junior Stephen Sieczkowski (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Technical) and made the score 2-0. The Britons then answered in the bottom of the inning with a pair of runs thanks to a two-run home run to even the game at 2-2.
in the top of the seventh, Trine platted the go-ahead run on a double-play with runners on first and third base that scored Hall and put the Thunder back out in front, 3-2. Following a lead-off pop-up to begin the Albion half of the seventh inning, the Britons recorded their second home run of the game in their next at-bat, this time a solo shot to tie the game at 3-3. Albion then followed that up with a single before Trine got the second out of the frame on a fly ball to right field. In the very next at-bat, Albion found space in the outfield for a double and resulted in the game-winning run to score from first for the 4-3 final.
Trine put up 11 hits in game one with Chase Hall leading the way finishing a perfect three-of-three to go along with a RBI. Two other players posted multi-hit games in Heller and O'Malley. Heller went two-of-three in addition to his run scored, and O'Malley had two hits in four at-bats.
On the mound, sophomore Mike Gustin (Hudson, Ind./Prairie Heights) started the game, but would end up with the loss after going six-and-a-third innings, allowing four runs on six hits and had two strikeouts. Fellow sophomore Caleb Deiter (Whiteland, Ind./Whiteland Community) pitched the final third-of-an-inning and gave up a lone hit.
In game two, Trine again grabbed the early lead with runs in the top of the first inning, but this time would plate three runs on a RBI-double by O'Malley, followed by a RBI-single by sophomore Thomas Rivet (Howell, Mich./Hartland) and a run-scoring groundout by junior Chris Frantz (Niles, Mich./Niles). Albion got a run in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a RBI-base hit that was set up by a double to begin the frame.
The Thunder equaled their run total to begin the game in the second with three more runs that got started with a RBI-single by Heller. O'Malley then recorded his second straight run-scoring hit in the team's next at-bat and then another run crossed home plate in the ensuing plate appearance on a defensive error to make the score, 6-1.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Britons chipped away at the Thunder lead with a pair of runs to pull to within three runs, 6-3. But Trine helped its cause with another run in the fourth that came on another run-scoring hit by Rivet that made it a 7-3 game.
The lead remained four runs for Trine until the Albion seventh inning when a triple led to a run on a ground out for the Britons to edge closer, 7-4. That would end up being the final run for the home team and the Thunder went on to add an insurance run in the ninth on a single by Sieczkowski. The Trine defense then shut out Albion in the bottom of the ninth to take an 8-4 win and the two-game split.
The Trine bats stayed hot in game two with 16 hits with O'Malley recording a game-high four of those hits (four-of-five overall) to go along with a run scored and two RBI. Five other players recorded a pair of hits that included Heller who was two-of-four with three runs scored and a RBI. Sieczkowski finished the game two-of-four with the RBI, while Rivet and junior Cale Hall (Orleans, Ind./Orleans) both finished two-of-five. Rivet also added a pair of RBI and Cale Hall also scored a run. Conn rounded out the multi-hitters with two hits in six at-bats in addition to scoring a pair of runs.
Senior Ben Wheaton (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett Catholic Central) got the start at pitcher for the Thunder and went seven innings while allowing four runs, two earned, on eight hits and struck out seven batters. He was also credited with the win and improves to 3-4 on the year. Fellow senior Dylan Hutchison (Montpelier, Ohio/North Central) replaced Wheaton and pitched a perfect inning of relief allowing no runs, hits or walks. Freshman Kyle Robinson (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) came on to finish the game and also gave up no runs or hits and just one walk.
Trine will wrap-up the regular season on Sunday, May 6 with the final MIAA doubleheader against Albion. It will also be senior day with the first game scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at Jannen Field.