ADRIAN, Mich. – The weekend series between Adrian and Kalamazoo got off to a tense start as they split a pair of one-run games on Saturday at Nicolay Field. The Bulldogs scored a 3-2 win in eight innings in game one and the Hornets rebounded with a 5-4 win in game two.
The Bulldogs moved their overall record to 24-10 and are now 18-4 in the conference. The Hornets are now 14-17 overall and 12-10 in the league. Kalamazoo is currently fourth in the MIAA while Adrian remains firmly in first with six regular season games left. The two teams will play in Kalamazoo on Sunday at 1 p.m. to conclude the four-game series.
Both games could have gone either way as a split was quite fitting on this day. The Hornets used four pitchers in game one and took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh. The Bulldogs needed a clutch hit in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings and got one from freshman Ryan Dorow. He stepped to the plate and delivered a two-out RBI single up the middle as pinch runner Ian Mikowski scored from second. The inning seemed doomed as two base runners were removed from the basepaths but the Bulldogs got a two-out walk by Ben Yax followed by a walk to Sam Fischer.
Kalamazoo went down in order in the top of the eighth setting up the bottom of the eighth. Zack Cole entered the game as the Hornets' third pitcher of the game. R.J. Rios singled up the middle with one out and Dan Heatherly followed with a walk. Jeff Gertley came into the game as a pinch runner at second for Rios and then Tommy Eng was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brent Yelton came out of the Hornet bullpen to face pinch hitter Braydon Gomes. The senior outfielder hit a 2-1 pitch to right field as Gertley tagged from third to score the winning run.
Eric Schmidt went eight innings on the mound and improved to 7-0 this season. He allowed one earned run with two walks and two strikeouts. Schmidt needed just 87 pitches (58 strikes) and lowered his season earned run average to 2.84. There were no extra base hits in game one as Dylan Pierce also had a solid outing for Kalamazoo. He threw six innings of three-hit ball with three walks and a strikeout. Dorow and Rios each had a pair of hits while Fischer had a RBI and three walks.
The Hornets jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings in game two as Rylie Robinson took a while to get settled into the contest. Kalamazoo scored three runs on four hits in the first inning and added another run in the second on two more hits. The Hornets would only get one more hit for the rest of the game. Adrian began to chip away at the four-run deficit with single runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Bulldogs then tied the game with two runs in the fifth. Mitch Stefanski singled with one out in the fifth and Drew Shutes followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Starting pitcher Adam McDowell was replaced by Ty Rock for Kalamazoo and uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners up a base. Rios bounced out to second for a RBI and Heatherly doubled down the left field line to score Shutes with the tying run.
Kalamazoo got the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh as Brett Garwood worked a leadoff walk. Robinson was taken out of the game after a sacrifice bunt for Greg Sombati. Marc Zughaib hit a high chopper over the mound and Dorow threw it away as Garwood scored on the error. The Bulldogs did not mount a comeback in the bottom of the seventh as reliever Yelton pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his second save of the year. Robinson got his first loss of the season (6-1) going 6.1 innings and allowing four earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts. Shutes went 2-for-4 with a run in game two. Travis Potter also had a multi-hit game going 2-for-3 to improve his batting average to .600 (6-for-10) this season. Hayden Craig went 2-for-2 at the plate with a RBI and walk.