By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – After returning home from a three-game set in Indiana over the weekend, Capital University Baseball jumped right back into game action with a pair of seven-inning games against Wittenberg University on Monday. In the first game, the Crusaders emerged victorious 5-3 but the offense cooled off just enough in a 5-4 loss in the second contest.
Game 1 – Capital 5, Wittenberg 3
The Crusaders started the first game of the doubleheader behind after allowing three runs in the bottom of the first but quickly rebounded in the top of the second.
Connor Richardson started the frame with a single and advanced to third on a walk to Connor Hopkins and then a passed ball. Ben Bethay drove Richardson and Hopkins home and then one batter later Zackary Ary scored Joe Caporale to tie the game at three.
After holding Wittenberg in the bottom of the second, the Cap offense went to work again in the third. Tyler Osborne led the inning off with a single to shortstop and then Richardson mashed a double to center that moved Osborne to third. Hopkins then came to the plate and scored Osborne with a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Drew Ellis, brought Richardson home with a grounder.
The Crusaders did not score the rest of the game but did not need to as Clay Piatt shut the Tiger lineup down. Piatt entered the game as a reliever in the second inning and was in complete control from the beginning, allowing no hits or walks in six innings of work to get the win. He struck out two.
Ary led Capital with three hits in four at-bats from the leadoff spot and Bethay's two RBIs were a game high.
Game 2 – Capital 4, Wittenberg 5
The day's second game began with two scoreless innings to start before the Tigers struck for two runs in the bottom of the third. The inning started with a double from Matt Baker and then a double from Tim Bates gave Witt the early advantage. The next batter, Patrick Kenny continued the trend with a two-bagger of his own and the Tigers found themselves with a 2-0 lead.
Wittenberg doubled that lead in the fourth inning when Baker singled in a run and then scored on an RBI single from Gabe Stacy.
Capital answered in the top of the fifth with two runs, the first from Richardson on a single from Caporale that found the grass in center field. The next run scored on an error by Wittenberg's right fielder that loaded the bases but the Crusaders were not able to bring any more home that inning.
In the top of the seventh, though, Capital tied the game at four thanks to clutch hitting from Alexander Smith. Doug Connor gave Cap its first runner of the inning by getting hit by a pitch and Ary worked a walk that put Connor in scoring position. Smith then guided a single to right that made it a one-run game and Shane Lyons brought Ary home with a fly ball to left.
With the game tied heading to the bottom of the final inning, two singles following a strikeout put Wittenberg in a threatening position. With runners on first and third, Jack Hollinshead scorched a single of his own to left field that ended the contest in Wittenberg's favor.
Smith was Capital's top performer at the plate with a 2-for-4 game and one RBI.
The Crusaders will continue their road streak and open Ohio Athletic Conference play with a 9-9 overall record when they head to John Carroll University for a scheduled two-game series with the Blue Streaks on Saturday, March 24. The first game is slated for a 1 p.m. start with the second game to follow.