Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania baseball team's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference home-opening doubleheader began with a career performance from freshman pitcher Colton Hartig and was punctuated with a memorable comeback as the Pioneers swept the Mount St. Joseph University Lions, 7-2 and 8-6 at Marquard Field on Tuesday afternoon.
In game one, the Pioneers and Lions combined for 26 hits on the day while the Pioneers grabbed a 6-2 lead after the first two innings to surge ahead to a 7-2 win.
The nightcap featured a dramatic finish as the Pioneers scored the final eight runs of the game, including four in the eighth inning to shock the Lions for an 8-6 victory as they improved to 11-11 on the season and 2-2 in HCAC play.
Mount St. Joseph dropped to 10-10 on the season and 1-2 in HCAC competition following Tuesday's doubleheader.
Facing off in the early afternoon on a windy day in the Bluegrass, the sides combined for eight of the game's nine runs in the first two innings as multiple hitters got ahold of the ball and put it into play. Hartig allowed Mt. St. Joseph's lone two runs of the game in the first inning as three consecutive Lions batters registered base hits to take a 2-0 advantage.
The Pioneers swung back in the bottom of the inning as freshman infielder Wade Lopiccolo led off with a bunt single and later was driven home on an RBI from freshman infielder Hudson Chastain for Transy's first score on Tuesday.
Sophomore catcher Cole Ratliff and sophomore designated hitter Austin Butts followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to put the Pioneers in front, 3-2. Sophomore outfielder Riley Willbur finished off the first inning scoring with an RBI single to score Butts for a 4-2 lead.
The offensive surge provided a boost for Hartig, who pitched effectively the rest of the way, striking out nine batters for a new single-game career high in strikeouts. In all, Hartig worked seven innings, yielding eight hits and zero walks.
Chastain led the way in game one with a 3-for-5 day at the plate. Ratliff and Butts each powered two hits and two RBIs apiece. Other Pioneers who enjoyed multi-hit games included Willbur with two hits, sophomore outfielder David McAnelly with two hits, and freshman infielder Henry Molloy with two.
Game two started out turbulently for the Pioneers, who allowed two runs in the second inning and four runs in the fourth inning as the Lions gradually crafted a 6-0 lead. Lions starting pitcher Jason Fischer did not allow a Transy baserunner for the first four frames before Ratliff led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a walk.
Ratliff's effort provided the first offensive spark of the second game for the Pios as junior infielder Jason Pastoor got aboard with a walk. Senior infielder Taylor Henley was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, eventually leading to Transylvania's first run of the game as McAnelly sacrificed Ratliff home on a deep fly ball into the outfield to make it a 6-1 game in favor of the Lions.
The momentum for Transylvania continued in the bottom of the sixth inning as Ratliff drove in Chastain with an RBI single to cut Mt. St. Joseph's lead to 6-2. On the next at-bat, Pastoor delivered his first home run of the season to left center field to score Ratliff and slice Mt. St. Joseph's margin to 6-4.
The encore performance arrived in the eighth inning; with the Pioneers still trailing 6-4, junior outfielder Isaac Taylor led off with a double. In the ensuing at-bat, Chastain grounded out into the Lions' shortstop, but a bad throw to third allowed Taylor to come home and cut the Mt. St. Joseph advantage to 6-5.
With one out, the Pioneers took advantage of another infielding error during a Henley at-bat as Chastain scored to tie the game at 6-all while Henley and Pastoor arrived to second and third base respectively.
Freshman pinch hitter Nick Wade then stepped up for the biggest hit of his young career, sending a double into center field to score Pastoor and put the Pioneers ahead, 7-6. McAnelly then provided the Pioneers with a two-run buffer on a sacrifice bunt to scored Henley for an 8-6 lead.
Freshman pitcher Evan Patrick came in to close down matters, gaining his third save of the season. The Pioneers input four pitchers in Tuesday's comeback victory; freshman pitcher Joey Yancey worked four innings in a long relief role to earn the first victory of his career as he struck out five Mt. St. Joseph batters, allowing two hits and no earned runs.
Transylvania continues its HCAC schedule as the Pioneers take on conference foe Defiance College on Saturday, April 7 at Marquard Field in an afternoon doubleheader. Game one between Transylvania and Defiance is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. in Lexington.
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