The Capital University baseball team won its second consecutive one-run game in its final at-bat Tuesday, defeating Hanover (Ind.) 6-5 on the fourth day of the team's spring break trip at Chain O' Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Fla.
Sophomore right-hander Jeff Small (Sylvania, Ohio) tossed three scoreless innings in relief to pick up his first career win for the Crursaders, and senior third baseman Ryan Pearson (Springfield, Ohio) delivered the go-ahead hit in the top of the ninth, a two-out double to score senior left fielder Taylor Branisel (South Euclid, Ohio) from first.
Pearson and Branisel each finished with three hits and combined to knock in five of Capital's six runs. Freshman designated hitter Logan Bastin (Lexington, Ohio) also tallied three hits, while senior centerfielder Nate Campbell (Latrobe, Pa.) and senior second baseman Anthony Calabrese (Hudson, Ohio) posted two hits apiece.
Freshman righty Tyler Spears (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) pitched 4 2/3 innings in his first career start, scattering seven hits over that span. Senior left-hander Jared Lee (North Bend, Ohio) finished the fifth and pitched the sixth before Small entered in bottom of the seventh.
The Crusaders (3-1 overall) tallied twice in the bottom of the first to take a 2-0 advantage. Branisel doubled on the third at-bat of the contest to bring in senior right fielder Andy Grillo (McArthur, Ohio). Pearson then plated Branisel with another double.
After the Panthers (2-2) scored one run each in the first and second innings, Capital regained its two-run lead with a pair in the top of the third. With one out, Branisel singled to bring in Campbell before being plated by Pearson, who also singled.
Hanover cut its deficit to one run in the bottom half of the frame, but the Crusaders responded with a run in the top of the fourth as Grillo knocked home Calabrese with a groundout.
The Panthers tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth, but were held in check the rest of the way by Small. Capital had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth with two on and one out, but the inning ended with a double play.
Hanover left 11 men on base for the game.
The Crusaders continue play tomorrow against Alma (Mich.) and No. 22 Augustana (Ill.). The Alma game is set for 10:30 a.m., while the team's contest against Augustana is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Both games are slated to take place at Chain O'Lakes Park.