April 18 2016
The Elmira College baseball team concluded its three-game series against Houghton College on Saturday, April 16, splitting a doubleheader with an 8-5 win in game one, before coming up on the short end of an 8-4 decision in the series capper. Coming off a victory over the Highlanders on Friday, April 15, Saturday's split gave Elmira the first overall series win over an Empire 8 Conference foe in program history.
When Elmira broke things open with five-run sixth inning to build an insurmountable lead, the sixth proved to again be fruitful for the Soaring Eagles in Saturday's opener. Trailing 3-2 heading into their penultimate at-bat, the Purple and Gold crossed the plate six times to turn a deficit into a comfortable lead.
Conor Bawiec '18, Elmira's starting pitcher in the opening contest, helped his own cause by reaching on a bunt single down the third-base line to begin the inning. Nate Hanner '18 followed with a walk. After Will Jenkins '18 struck out, Bryce Plante '18 and Matt van Muelken '18 followed with back-to-back singles, the latter's tying the game at 3-3 and leaving the bases loaded.
The Highlanders turned to their bullpen to try to escape the inning with the game tied. Lucas Cornell came on for the visitors and looked to have induced a ground ball from Hayden Rothenberg '17 that would have ended the inning. The EC centerfielder reached out to slap a soft one hopper toward second base, but Houghton's Chris Welch misjudged the spin on the awkward grounder, allowing the go-ahead run to cross. Dennis Rudolph '18 and Dylan Bellinger '17 made the visitors pay. Rudolph slashed a base-knock that was stopped on a fantastic dive by Houghton's first-baseman Tage Johnson, but had no chance to beat the speedy Rudolph in a race to the bag. Bellinger followed with the big blow in the inning, blasting a bases-clearing double to widen the gap to 8-3.
Although Houghton was able to push across a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, Bawiec buckled down to finish off his complete game with a pair of strikeouts of Ethan Duryea and Jens Omdal to end the game. He finished with a career-best nine punch outs in the contest.
While Elmira's ability to put up crooked number innings played a big part in the team taking the first two games of the series, it was Houghton that was able to mark a big inning to take control of the nightcap of the doubleheader.
The Highlanders broke a 3-3 deadlock with a four-run inning in the fifth inning to take control of the contest. Nick Cottone'19 got the spot start for Elmira, but some wildness throughout the outing helped Houghton string together some scoring innings. He was pulled with two outs in the fifth, after two runs had already scored. EC reliever Mike Ladka '16 allowed his one inherited runner to score on a wild pitch to close the book on Cottone with six runs, all earned, in 4.2 innings.
Elmira got runners on base in each of the final four innings, but the Soaring Eagles only were able to push one across in the 8-4 loss.
"It was such a big accomplishment for our team to be able to reach another milestone and win our first series in conference. As a second-year program, it was nice to be able to check off that box and show the continued growth and progress we are making."
- Corey Paluga, Baseball Head Coach