Baseball Eagles Sweep McKendree
A large crowd at Shell Field this weekend witnessed a historical sweep for the Williams Baptist College baseball squad. The Eagles swept the Bearcats from McKendree University for the first time in school history.
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Game one did not start well for Williams, as they gave up nine runs in the top of the first inning of the Friday contest, courtesy of a grand slam, a two-run homerun, and a solo shot for the Bearcats.
Coach Frank Lee commented, “It would have been easy to give up right there, and feel sorry for ourselves. However, we showed heart.”
The Eagles started to chip away at the lead in the fourth inning when shortstop Aaron Jones launched a three run homerun over the left field wall. It was Jones’ first career homerun. WBC added a run in the fifth on Tyler Williams’ solo shot, cutting the lead to 9-4.
The rally caps were on when WBC took to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Eagles sent 11 batters to the box, scoring six runs to take a 10-9 lead. Five of the runs were scored after two outs, including back-to-back triples by Blake Coffman and Jones.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was solid for the Eagles. Nathan Thomas, Marcus Massey, and Drew Tullos combined to throw eight innings of shutout ball, allowing a mere three hits.
Massey picked up the win for pitching the sixth and seventh innings. While, Tullos closed the game out allowing one hit in the final two frames.
WBC hoped to keep the momentum going on Saturday morning, in game two of the series. It did not take long for the fans to see more solid play from the Eagles. Starting pitcher Alex Markum held the Bearcats in the first inning, only allowing one infield hit. WBC scored two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Williams added two more in the second to take a 4-0 lead. McKenree tried to make it close, cutting the lead to 5-4 in the sixth, but the Eagles responded well, scoring three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Williams held on to win 8-4 with Shawn Selph picking up the “W,” and John Smith closing the game out for the save.
The final game of the series would prove to be as exciting as the first two. The Eagles would not disappoint in Saturday’s nightcap.
The game was back and forth from the first pitch and would eventually be decided in extra innings. Doubleheaders in NAIA baseball are seven innings long.
The Eagles struck first as McKendree walked in a run with the bases loaded in the second inning. The Bearcats got that run back in the third, but the Eagles answered in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead. Then, the Bearcats got a big hit in the fourth scoring two. MU led 3-2 at the end of four.
WBC was able to tie the score in the fifth, but once again McKendree responded in the sixth with a run. The Bearcats held a 4-3 advantage entering the bottom half of the seventh.
Once again, rally caps were seen all over the stands at Shell Field, and once again the fans would be treated to a rally.
Mitchell Dennis got it started with an infield single, followed by a Kendall Fay walk. A couple batters later, Aaron Jones came up with two outs and men at first and third. Jones continued his trend of getting clutch hits with an RBI single into left field. The single tied the game and sent it to extra innings.
After a one, two, three inning for relief pitcher Drew Tullos, WBC came to the plate with a chance to sweep. With the fans on their feet, Dennis came to the plate with two outs and men on first and third. Dennis lined one back up the middle to centerfield, scoring Garrett Broadaway.
Williams had completed the sweep, and Tullos picked up the win the final game.
Lee described the series, “To beat an NCAA division II team like McKendree shows the character of this team. This sweep was a total team effort.”
With the sweep, the Eagles move to 4-6 on the season. They will host College of the Ozarks on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in a doubleheader at Shell Field beginning at 1 p.m.