HUNTINGTON, Ind. - It was a critical night of baseball for the Foresters as they came up with a pair of important MCC wins against the Cougars of Spring Arbor University Tuesday night at Forest Glen Park.
Behind solid pitching, HU held on for a 2-1 win in game one followed by an eight-inning 4-3 victory in the nightcap to complete the series sweep over SAU.
With these wins, the Foresters (24-22, 19-13) slide one game ahead of the Cougars and into a tie for third with Mount Vernon in the conference standings. HU has won seven of its last eight games.
The opener was a pitcher’s duel in which HU ace Mitch Bowers came out victorious. He scattered eight hits and gave up one run while striking out six in six innings of work to log his sixth win of the year. Brian Kirschbaum pitched a hitless, scoreless inning of relief to pick up the save. He currently leads the MCC in saves with eight.
After spotting the Cougars a 1-0 lead through the first four innings, the Foresters finally pieced together a two-run inning in the bottom of the fifth to secure the win. Jordan Klopfenstein ignited the rally with a single to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Eric Schultz was intentionally walked and Josh Lanphier tallied a base hit to load the bases, Blake Ayers delivered a double to right to drive in two runs.
Spring Arbor kept things interesting in the top of the seventh by pounding out back-to-back singles at the expense of Bowers but Kirschbaum proved to be the Cougars’ rally-killer. After inheriting runners on first and second with no outs, HU’s closer methodically retired the next three SAU batters to seal the win.
HU finished with seven hits from seven different Foresters with Ayers registering the game-winning knock.
The nightcap was eerily similar to the opener as the Cougars held onto a 2-0 lead through the first half of the game before the Foresters strung together five hits in the bottom of the fifth to jump on top 3-2.
Just like game one, Ayers found himself at the plate with bases loaded and this time around came up with a clutch hit up the middle to account for HU’s first run. Brandon Van Matre followed suit with a shot into left to drive in the final two runs of the inning.
A resilient Cougar squad was once again not ready to wave the white flag but this time their efforts paid off as they touched home in the top of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
The Foresters wasted no time getting on the board in the eighth. Austin Drummond opened up play with a single into right and then found himself in scoring position thanks to a fielder’s obstruction call. Two outs later, Klopfenstein delivered a walk-off single for the win.
South paw Tyler Palmer started for HU and allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three over five innings. Wes Carroll worked two outs in the sixth before Kirschbaum took over the reins to pick up the win. In 2.1 innings of work he gave up his first run of the season and allowed two hits and a walk.
Schultz continues to be one of the most dangerous hitters in the nation as he finished 3-for-3 from the plate and worked one base on balls. He is currently hitting .449 which places him seventh in the NAIA and first in the MCC in batting average. Klopfenstein added two hits while Van Matre tallied two RBI.
The Foresters host MCC leader Taylor University for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader on Thursday.