WOOSTER, Ohio – Sophomore Dan Harwood tattooed a pair of massive home runs to hitter-friendly right field at Art Murray Field, and the 14th-ranked College of Wooster baseball team recorded a plethora of big defensive plays during its season-opening 17-9 win over visiting University of Mount Union on Sunday afternoon.
Wooster (1-0), which boasted Div. III's highest scoring offense a year ago, showed every indication that it has the potential to be among the division's leaders once again, as the Fighting Scots scored in five of their eight trips to the plate, and each time tallied multiple runs.
The Scots jumped all over Mount Union (0-1) first-team American Baseball Coaches Association All-American and 2017 Mideast Region Pitcher-of-the-Year Phil Mary from the get-go, and the Scots chased the Purple Raiders' ace after 3 1/3 innings, during which he was tagged for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits after only allowing seven earned runs in 81 innings a year ago.
Senior Drew Tornow came through with the Scots' first big base knock of the year, and that came in the form of a two-run two-bagger in the bottom of the first inning that followed on the heels of a one-out walk issued to classmate Jake Fling and a sharp single by junior Michael Wielansky.
In the bottom of the third, Harwood teed off on a first-pitch offering from Mary and blasted a two-run round-tripper onto the College's golf course beyond the right-field fence to bump the Scots' lead back out to three at 5-2.
An inning later, junior Conner Thomson put the bow on a five-run explosion with a grand slam for his first collegiate homer. Earlier in the inning, Wielansky and junior Garrett Crum laced one-out base knocks, the second of which plated the first run of the inning. Wooster also drew three walks in the inning leading up to Thomson's at bat.
Defensively, Wooster picked up right where it left off last year in terms of highlight-reel plays. In the second inning, the Scots escaped further damage after the Purple Raiders plated their first two runs of the contest with a pair of outfield assists. First, Fling mowed down a runner at third with the aid of Wielansky's relay throw for the second out of the frame. Then, sophomore Nick Strausbaugh cleaned up on a Nate Owen double to the left-field fence by teaming up with Wielansky's relay throw to gun down Bryant Kennedy at the plate.
Sticking with the defense, Wielansky made a spectacular sliding stop on a grounder up the middle to start the top of the third inning. Later, Fling snared a lengthy fly ball that was nearly over his head in centerfield, and sophomore Chandler Dippman stretched out to pick off a liner down the left-field line and fired across the diamond to Crum to double-up the Purple Raiders and end the top of the sixth inning.
Wooster rode the momentum following Dippman's twin killer to the tune of a three-run sixth inning, with Harwood blasting his second homer of the game out to right field to jump-start the two-out rally. After that, the Scots turned to small-ball execution for their final seven runs of the contest.
Later in the sixth, Wooster's patience equated to three walks, the final free pass of which was issued to sophomore Jacob Stuursma with the bases load. Then, Thomson scooted home on a wild pitch.
During the Scots' four-run seventh, Crum smashed a double to the gap in right-center to plate the first run of the inning, and Harwood followed with his fourth hit and third RBI of the tilt to knock in the Scots' first baseman. Dippman poked a base knock out to right to bring in the third run of the inning, while Stuursma lifted a sacrifice fly out to center to round out Wooster's scoring.
Seven of Wooster's nine starters logged multiple hits on the day, and overall the Scots banged out 17. Harwood led the way with a 4-for-4 showing with four RBI and three runs scored, while Crum, Thomson, and Tornow accounted for nine runs scored and seven hits.
Senior Nanak Saran picked up the win with five innings of work. The right-hander struck out seven while scattering five hits.
Wooster is idle until its 11-game Florida trip that starts with a 4 p.m. tilt versus No. 13 Keystone College on March 12 at Port Charlotte's North Regional Park.