The SVSU baseball team earned its first win of the season over the weekend, as it split the first two games of a three-game set with McKendree University.
Sunday’s rubber match was still underway when The Valley Vanguard went to press.
SVSU earned an emphatic 22-3 win over the Bearcats in the second game of the series on Saturday, Feb. 23.
“It was really nice to be able to break loose and get a win and get a lot of guys in and have a good feeling about ourselves (Saturday),” first-year head coach Steve Jaksa said.
The offensive onslaught began in the first inning, as SVSU put up seven runs on McKendree starting pitcher Connor Gilles, who allowed seven runs in just two-thirds of an inning. Only two of those runs were earned, however, as two Bearcat errors led to five unearned runs.
The SVSU offensive domination continued, as the Cardinals put up one in the second, seven more in the third, one in the fifth, two in the seventh and four in the ninth.
Leading the SVSU charge at the plate was freshman infielder Martin Money, who had four of SVSU’s 18 hits. Money had two doubles and a triple to go along with two runs scored, four RBIs and two walks.
Senior infielder Jordan Swiss had two hits, two runs and two RBIs while rightfielder Joshua Riggs added two hits, two runs and four RBIs. Centerfielder Craig Wilson also had two hits and an RBI and scored two runs. Swiss was also named last week’s GLIAC Player of the Week.
On the mound, junior Amani Godfrey earned his first win of the season, lasting five innings while allowing just two runs and striking out eight.
On Friday, the Cardinals opened the series with a 5-3 loss despite holding an early lead over McKendree.
Following a scoreless first inning, SVSU jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the second when senior infielder Derrek Clyde doubled down the left-field line to score catcher Gerrit Eding and designated hitter Jacob Mansfield. Clyde advanced to third on the play and then scored on a wild pitch during the next at-bat.
On the mound, Camden Dice had a much improved second outing of the season. He threw three scoreless innings but ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth, when a walk, two stolen bases and a wild pitch led to McKendree’s Drake Hampton crossing the plate and making it 3-1.
Things got worse in the fifth for SVSU, as Bearcat Cal Kossina led the inning off with a single.
A would-be sacrifice bunt from Hayden Schaefer moved Kossina to third on a throwing error from Eding that left runners on the corners with no outs. After Schaefer stole second, McKendree’s Matt Kosterman singled, scoring Kossina.
Following the run, Dice was relieved by sophomore Jacob Crossan but was charged with two additional runs in the inning, giving the Bearcats a 4-3 lead.
Dice took the loss and finished with four innings pitched, allowing three hits and four runs, only two of which were earned. He struck out five but walked four.
Crossan finished strong on the mound for SVSU, allowing just four hits and one additional run over the game’s final four innings. He struck out three and walked just one.
However, the SVSU bats were unable to mount a comeback, as they managed only one hit over the game’s final four innings and ultimately fell 5-3.
“There was a little frustration probably during the game,” Jaksa said. “Then I think we started fighting ourselves a little bit, and that’s a bad combination. When things don’t go quite the way you map them out, you have to figure out how to stop thinking about the negative things that are happening. (Friday), we weren’t able to do as good of a job as we are going to in that area.”
Clyde had two hits in the leadoff spot to go along with two RBIs to lead SVSU. Swiss, junior outfielder Collin Winters, Mansfield and Eding all had one hit apiece.
Next on the schedule is SVSU’s annual spring road trip, where it will play seven games between March 1 and March 9. The first four will be against Missouri S&T between March 1 and March 3, and the rest will be against Trevecca Nazarene.
Reported by Connor Doyle, Vanguard Reporter