ADRIAN, Mich. – The regular season series against Kalamazoo featured a little bit of everything as the Bulldogs took three of four. The opening game of the MIAA Tournament delivered more suspense as the Bulldogs advanced into the winner's bracket with a 3-2 victory over the Hornets at Nicolay Field. The top-seeded Bulldogs improved to 31-10 overall and 14-2 at home this season, while Kalamazoo slips below .500 at 20-21.
The matchup of two of the top pitchers in the MIAA lived up to the hype. Adrian senior Eric Schmidt and Kalamazoo freshman Ryan Orr dueled the whole evening matching each other pitch-for-pitch. The Hornets got off to a good start with two runs in the top of the first off Schmidt, who earlier today was named MIAA Pitcher of the Year. Ian Kobernick led off with a single to center and Jack Clark reached on an error by third baseman Tommy Eng. Scott Devine then doubled down the left field line past a diving Eng for a 1-0 lead. Carter Chandler then hit a slow roller to third which allowed another run to score. Schmidt got out of further damage by striking out Joey Aliotta looking and Alex Fultz swinging.
Adrian cut the lead in half in the fourth as John Knorr led off with a walk. Drew Shutes singled to right field and Ryan Dorow hit a flare to center for a RBI single. Orr then stranded two runners on base to protect the 2-1 lead. The Bulldogs then took the lead in the sixth on a pair of back-to-back home runs by Shutes and Dorow. Orr tried to sneak a fastball inside on Shutes but he deposited it over the left field wall for his second of the season. Dorow followed with his ninth of the season again on an inside fastball that caught too much of the plate.
"I was looking for a good pitch to hit and was sitting on a fastball in that situation. I wanted to continue the momentum after Drew's home run and got something I could drive," said Dorow.
Schmidt went on a mission over the final five innings facing the minimum. He fanned three during that stretch and finished with six strikeouts. The only hit was quickly erased with one out in the ninth as Chandler singled to left, but was thrown out by Knorr at second on a strike to John Joseph covering the bag.
"The goal is to go out and get ahead of hitters and Kalamazoo was ready in the first. I located better as the game went on and once we got the lead just wanted to throw zeroes on the board. The defense behind me was great and Dorow made some highlight reel plays that kept us ahead."
Kalamazoo outhit the Bulldogs, 6-5, with six different players recording one hit. Adrian had just two players get a hit. Shutes finished 2-for-4 and Dorow went 3-for-4 before fouling out in his final at-bat. Orr finished eight innings with three earned runs, two walks and eight strikeouts. Schmidt picked up his ninth win of the season and 30th of his career. He went nine innings allowing one earned run with no walks in a 101-pitch gem (67 strikes). The Bulldogs will play Hope tomorrow at noon in their second game of the tournament. Hope defeated Calvin 7-6 earlier today in Grand Rapids.