The College of Wooster baseball team, which earlier in the day was announced as the new No. 1 team in the D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top-25 Poll, pulled ahead over host Otterbein University on sophomore Harry Witwer-Dukes' third-inning home run, and the Fighting Scots stayed in control the rest of the way for an eventual 9-5 win in a Tuesday afternoon battle between conference leaders at Fishbaugh Field in Westerville, Ohio.
Junior Jacob Stuursma was dinged by a Chris Sparks pitch to start the game, and senior Jake Fling picked a good time to stroke his 250th career hit, which came in the form of a RBI two-bagger for the early 1-0 lead. Fling, the first Scot (31-5, 13-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) to reach 250 career base knocks since W Association Hall of Famer Jake Frank in 2005, is just the fifth player in program history to reach the prestigious milestone.
Fling's early offense didn't keep the Scots in front for long, as the Cardinals (26-10, 13-3 Ohio Athletic Conference) struck for four runs in the bottom of the first inning before Wooster junior Chandler Dippman settled in and found his groove on the mound.
Wooster's bottom of the order had Dippman's back in the top of the second inning. Junior battery mate Harrison Walls smashed a leadoff double to right center field, and he moved up to third on a sharp single by Witwer-Dukes. First-year Noah Clement, who was making his first collegiate start at designated hitter, walked to load the bases, and two batters later, junior Michael Wielansky pulled the Scots within one at 4-3 with a two-out, two-run single.
That's where the score stood until the third inning when Witwer-Dukes drilled a two-run round tripper out to left field to put the Scots up 5-4.
The Scots' bottom part of the order continued to prove to be major difference makers in the contest in the fifth inning. Senior Drew Tornow led off the three-run frame with a bunt single, and Witwer-Dukes picked up his third RBI in the game with a two-bagger down the left field line two batters later. Clement and Stuursma made it an 8-4 game courtesy of back-to-back sacrifice flies.
The Cardinals started to rally in the sixth inning with a pair of hits to pull within 8-5, but Dippman induced an inning-ending ground out to strand a runner in scoring position.
Sticking with Dippman (6-0), Wooster's right-hander went on toss seven innings and allowed three hits and a walk outside of the first inning. Dippman's day included a stretch of retiring eight batters in a row prior to Tim Snyder reaching with a one-out single in the sixth inning.
Wooster picked the run back up in the seventh inning on a Clement single up the middle that brought in Tornow, who scored his co-game-high third run of the contest on the play.
Junior Wyatt Linde and first-year Jack Jones each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Linde's appearance marked the southpaw's team-high 22nd of the year, and he's now eighth on the program's single-season leaderboard.
Notable, Jones got Luke Barber to ground into a game-ending double play, and it marked the second straight game to end via a twin killer.
Witwer-Dukes led the way at the play with a 3-for-5 game with three runs scored and three RBI. Tornow and Walls combined for five runs and four hits.
Ben Beachy tallied three of the Cardinals 10 hits.
Next, Wooster travels to Wittenberg University (13-21, 7-7 NCAC) for a Wednesday evening doubleheader. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.