ADRIAN, Mich. – For the first time since 2001, Adrian College and Siena Heights University met on the diamond for the third time in a season. The two teams had split the previous two games each winning by one run on their home turf. Monday night was no different in terms of a close battle as the visiting Saints stole a 4-3 win at Nicolay Field in 12 innings improving to 40-29 in the all-time series between the neighboring institutions.
The Bulldogs (23-9) were playing their final non-conference game of the season and got a strong starting performance from Greg Sombati. He was making his first start of the season after 10 relief appearances and went seven innings allowing five hits. Sombati gave up a run in the first on two hits and then held the Saints hitless for four innings. Siena Heights got two runs charged to Sombati in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3. He threw 84 pitches (59 strikes) with no walks or strikeouts.
Jordan Frayer showed great resolve out of the bullpen with three hitless innings including one walk and three strikeouts. Tommy Eng tossed two innings and took the loss despite giving up an unearned run in the top of the 12th. Eng (1-2) did walk a pair and also struck out two in a 46-pitch effort (28 strikes).
The Bulldogs scored twice in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead. Adrian would score all three of their runs with two outs in the contest. John Joseph walked in the second after the first two batters were retired. Hayden Craig followed with his first extra-base hit of the season which was a triple to right off the wall. Travis Potter then drilled a single through the left side to give the Bulldogs a one-run lead.
Adrian increased their lead to 3-1 in the fourth as Potter walked to lead-off the inning. He swiped second and took third on a groundout for the second out of the frame. Mitch Stefanski then singled sharply up the middle on the first pitch he saw to give Adrian a two-run cushion. The Saints tied it in the seventh courtesy of a RBI single by Drew Milligan and a sacrifice fly by Zack Dunlop. The second run was unearned as Dennis Sharp reached on a throwing error by Ryan Dorow.
The Bulldogs placed a runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh but Dan Heatherly popped up to shortstop to end the inning. Neither team had a quality scoring chance again until SHU in the top of the 11th. The Saints had a single and two walks in the inning to load the bags with one out but Eng struck out Mike Lollo and then got Austin Hauck to fly out to right to keep the game tied at 3-3.
Adrian then had a chance to win it in the bottom of the 11th as Jeff Gertley singled to right center with two outs and stole second. Sam Fischer was then intentionally walked before Dorow grounded into a fielder's choice and the force was made at third base. Milligan opened the 12th with an infield single for the Saints and after two outs, Drew Byers was inserted as a pinch runner for Dunlop. Dan Muller singled to right on a blooper and Byers went to third. Eric Henderson then hit a playable ball to newly inserted Ben Yax at second base who could not initially grip the ball out of his glove and then had to rush and threw the ball away at first allowing the winning run to score from third.
Tayler Thelen got out of a jam in the 11th and would get the win (3-2) with one relief inning and two strikeouts. Ben Finn entered the game in the bottom of the 12th and recorded his second save. Stefanski singled to left and the ball got past Milligan allowing him to reach second to start the inning. Drew Shutes hit a fly ball to center and Stefanski advanced to third. R.J. Rios swung at the first pitch he saw and hit a foul pop that Joe Williams made a great diving play on to get the second out. Heatherly worked a 3-2 count but on the sixth pitch of the at-bat flied out to right center where Muller made a running catch to end the contest.
Stefanski entered the game batting .397 (23-of-58) in home games this season and went 3-for-6 with a RBI. Dorow hit his 16th double of the season in the first inning and moved into a tie for second for most doubles in a season at Adrian. He trails Alex Cowart (2009) by two doubles now to tie for the most in school history. Potter got his first start of the season in left field and batted ninth going 2-for-3 with a run, walk and RBI. He also stole three bases in the contest for his first three steals of the season. Joseph also reached base three times with a single and two walks.
The Bulldogs will get back to conference play on Saturday as they host Kalamazoo College for a 1 p.m. doubleheader. Adrian (17-3) currently leads the race for another regular season championship by five games over Calvin (12-8) after the Knights split with Alma on Monday. The Hornets are third at 11-9 in the MIAA.