No. 2 Wooster Works Out of Series of Jams to Win Opener Over Denison, Has 27-Game Regular-Season Conference Winning Streak Snapped in Nightcap

Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill
Nanak Saran
Nanak Saran

First-year Andrew Hill walked the tight rope for his first collegiate save in the opener, but the second-ranked College of Wooster's potent offense was held at bay during a Saturday split between the top two teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference standings, as Wooster topped Denison University 4-3 before falling 4-2 at Big Red Field in Granville, Ohio.

Hill entered to a big jam as Denison (25-8, 11-3 NCAC) runners occupied first and second base with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Big Red's Grady Paine sacrificed the runners over to second and third base, and then Hill did some jamming of his own. The right-hander got Sam Frazen to hit a pop up to shallow right field that went into the waiting glove of junior Jacob Stuursma, and then Hill induced a game-ending pop out by Will Krushena that was snagged by junior first baseman Garrett Crum.

An inning earlier, Wooster (28-5, 13-1 NCAC) was again tested defensively as the first two Denison batters reached before a sacrifice bunt moved the tying run 90 feet from home. This time senior James Usher worked out of the jam thanks to a pair of fly outs to senior Jake Fling.

In the seventh inning, Denison leadoff hitter Noah Hahn singled to left field, but was quickly erased on an around-the-horn 5-4-3 double play. Junior Wyatt Linde pitched through the inning unscathed as the next Big Red hitter grounded out to Stuursma.

Earlier in the game, Wooster's offense took center stage with Crum's RBI single in the first inning giving the Scots an early 1-0 lead, and the RBI marked Wooster's first baseman's career-high 57th.

An inning later, Wooster tacked on three more runs. Sophomore Dan Gail led off the inning with a single and came in on Stuursma's three-bagger. Fling's RBI single through the left side and stolen base kept the pressure on the Big Red, and junior Michael Wielansky came through in the clutch with a RBI single to make it 4-0.

Denison's Tanner Johnson put the Big Red on the board with a third-inning home run, and his RBI ground out in the fourth inning made it a one-run game.

Wooster senior Nanak Saran improved to 7-1 on the year. The right-hander allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings of work.

Fling and Gail each logged three hits while, while Stuursma scored a game-high two runs.

In the nightcap, Wooster had to play catchup as Denison trotted across three runs in the second inning, two of which came in on Jack Blanchard's two-out single.

The Big Red extended their lead to 4-0 when Vince Walker reached on a third-strike wild pitch, and eventually came in to score on a separate wild pitch later in the inning.

Wooster, which was kept in check by Perley Provost's 8 2/3 innings of nine-hit baseball, finally broke through in the scoring column in the seventh inning. Sophomore Dan Harwood clubbed a double to right-center, moved up to third base on Crum's single, and scored on senior Drew Tornow's sacrifice fly.

Wooster pulled within two on Wielansky's RBI single in the eighth inning, and the RBI marked the junior's 140th of his career.        

The Scots had the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but Mikey Rivera was able to record the final out of the game to nail down his sixth save.

Crum led the way with a 3-for-4 game, while junior Harrison Walls and Wielansky had two hits each.

Junior Brian Murray (4-1) took the loss for the Scots. The right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits in five innings of work.

Noteworthy, Wooster won 27 straight regular-season NCAC games prior to Saturday's nightcap.

Hahn was the torn in Wooster's side in the nightcap, as the second baseman had three of Denison's six hits.

Wooster has a quick turnaround as the Scots host Capital University (14-20) for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Sunday, April 29 at Art Murray Field.