The Capital University baseball team made a clutch defensive play in the second game Sunday to salvage a two-game split at Wilmington in an Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader in Wilmington, Ohio.
The Crusaders (11-9 overall, 2-4 OAC) fell 4-3 in the opener before flipping the score around in the nightcap for a 4-3 victory.
In the bottom of the ninth of the second game, Capital clung to a one-run lead with one out and runners in scoring position. The Quakers (2-16, 1-5) lifted a fly ball to right, deep enough to try and score from third. After making the catch, senior right fielder Jake Nelson (Utica, Ohio), who entered the game in the bottom of the eighth as a defensive substitution, threw to the plate and nailed the runner at the plate for the third out of the inning to end the contest.
Senior LHP Kevin Brennan (Mason, Ohio) earned the victory to improve to 1-2 on the year. Brennan started and allowed just two earned runs in 7 2/3 innings while striking out four. Sophomore right-hander Jeff Small (Sylvania, Ohio) pitched two-thirds of an inning to bridge the gap between Brennan and senior lefty Jared Lee (North Bend, Ohio), who earned the save by inducing the game-ending double play.
Senior third baseman Ryan Pearson (Springfield, Ohio) finished 3-for-5 with two runs batted in. Junior first baseman Matt Carnahan (Moundsville, W.Va.) and freshman designated hitter Logan Bastin (Lexington, Ohio) tallied two hits apiece for the Crusaders, who totaled 11 hits for the game.
Capital took a 3-0 advantage in the top of the third thanks to a two-run double by senior left fielder Taylor Branisel (South Euclid, Ohio) and an RBI double by Pearson.
After Wilmington plated a pair in the bottom of the fourth, the Crusaders responded with one in the top of the fifth on a run-scoring single through the left side by Carnahan.
Brennan and Small combined to strand a pair of runners in the bottom of the eight to allow Capital to hold its lead.
In the opener, the Crusaders received a stellar outing from senior right-hander Justin Hoying (Ft. Loramie, Ohio), but the team allowed a pair of unearned runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.
Hoying scattered seven hits while striking out nine in eight innings of work in a no-decision. Sophomore lefty Adam Journic (Akron, Ohio) was saddled with the loss, dropping to 1-1 on the year.
Branisel and Pearson led Capital with three hits apiece. The Crusaders scored on a wild pitch in the first, an RBI single by Bastin in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the eighth by senior shortstop Brian Wyer (New Albany, Ohio), which gave Capital a 3-1 lead.
Wilmington plated two in the eighth to tie it and set up its rally in the ninth.
Capital continues OAC play Wednesday against Heidelberg. First pitch at Clowson Field is slated for 1 p.m.