Branch Gets Game 1 Win in Split at Trine

Branch Gets Game 1 Win in Split at Trine

ANGOLA, Ind. – The regular season ended for the Adrian College baseball team (28-12, 20-8) on Friday with a disheartening split at Trine University. Adrian claimed a 5-1 win in Game 1 behind a complete-game win by junior Holden Branch and a five-run sixth inning. The Bulldogs led 6-3 in the nightcap before allowing six runs in the bottom of the fifth and eventually falling 9-6.

The Bulldogs did not record a hit in Game 1 until a one-out double by Sam Fischer in the top of the fourth. Branch and Phil Stakely were locked in a duel through five innings before the Bulldogs broken through with five runs in the sixth. Trine was hurt badly by seven errors in Game 1 with three of those coming from Stakely. The Thunder committed two errors in the sixth which led to four unearned runs. Stakely exited the game after a failed pickoff attempt and Nick Cocanower finished the inning on the mound.

Trine broke up the shutout in the seventh as Devin Copple had a RBI on a fielder's choice. Branch tossed seven innings and allowed six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. He won his six straight decision to improve to 6-1 this season with a 1.20 ERA. Dan Heatherly had a two-RBI single in the sixth and Anthony Sergi also had a RBI single.

The Bulldogs left themselves scoreboard watching after a Game 2 loss. Adrian needed a little help from Calvin College as they played Hope College in a twilight doubleheader to earn at least a share of the MIAA regular season crown. Despite Adrian's 9-6 defeat, Calvin split with Hope winning Game 2 by the final score of 8-1. That win means that Adrian will at least share the title and could win it outright for the fifth straight season if Calvin can win one more game in Saturday's doubleheader at Hope.

Eric Schmidt held it together on the mound after giving up three runs after two innings. Schmidt stayed in the game heading into the bottom of the fifth with a 6-3 lead after the Bulldogs scored four times in the top of the fifth. He gave up a leadoff single to Matt Zurbriggen and was replaced by Cory Fox. Fox gave up a double to Tom Wilder and walked two guys including a bases-loaded walk to R.J. Flowers. Tommy Eng relieved Fox but did not close out the inning. He allowed a RBI single to Andrew DeGood and Zurbriggen and was also hurt by an error by Ben Yax. Lucas Willitzer was called on to stop the bleeding and he gave up an infield single to Wilder before getting Carter Stafford to pop out to end the inning.

Adrian left two runners on base in the sixth as Cocanower made a relief appearance for the fourth straight game in the series. He walked Sergi on four pitches and after two outs did the same with a five-pitch walk to Mitch Stefanski. Cocanower induced a groundout back to him to end the threat. Adrian put one man on base in the seventh after Jeff Gertley walked with two outs but Andrew DeLuca flied out to center to end the game.

Jakeb Briscoe got the win in relief for the Thunder improving to 3-3. Fox absorbed the loss falling to 4-2 as he recorded one out while facing five batters. Heatherly went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs in Game 2. R.J. Rios had three RBI's and went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Fischer drew two walks and also had a hit in two at-bats. Heatherly went 6-for-14 (.429) in the four-game series versus the Thunder. Adrian batters also walked 18 times in the series and had a .382 on-base percentage. Both teams had identical 3.00 ERA numbers in the series and could very well square off again on Wednesday, May 8 in the opening game of the conference tournament. Trine has two more conference games against Kalamazoo on Sunday and will likely finish third in the MIAA.