FRANKLIN – The Franklin College baseball team continued as 12-game homestand on Friday afternoon, welcoming Calvin College to John P. McDowell Field for the first of three games over the next two days.
The Grizzly offense exploded late in the game, turning a tie game into a blowout with 16 runs over a two-inning stretch. Franklin (6-0) pounded out a season-high 21 hits on their way to a 20-8 win over the Knight (1-2) to remain perfect on the 2018 campaign.
All nine members of the Franklin starting lineup finished with at least one hit on Friday afternoon. Ryan Bixler broke out with a team-high four hits and five runs scored on the day. Ryan Erlandson had three hits and crossed home plate three times and Sam Claycamp scored four times on the day.
The Grizzlies would fall behind for the first time this season in the top of the first inning when the Knights struck for a pair of runs off starter Christian Sullivan. Bixler would chop the lead in half in the bottom of the first, crushing the first pitch he saw for a solo shot to make it a 2-1 game.
Two innings later, the Grizzlies jumped out in front when Bixler scored on a wild pitch and Nick Wright brought Claycamp home with an RBI ground out to make it 3-2 Grizzlies. Brandt Pawley continued his recent tear with an RBI single in the fourth to put Franklin up by a pair.
Calvin would draw even with runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, but the Franklin bats would respond in a major way to put the game out of reach.
The Grizzlies exploded for 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wright, Drew Naumovich and Jarrod Smith all drove in two runs in the inning as Franklin sent 17 batters to the plate in the sixth alone.
The onslaught continued in the bottom of the seventh as Erlandson, Claycamp, Wright and Alex Mis had run-scoring base hits to give the Grizzlies 20 runs on the day.
Sullivan (3-0) picked up the win for the Grizzlies. The Schererville, Ind.-native allowed four runs on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts on 94 pitches over six innings of work. Connor Morton and Ben Sprinkle combined to toss the final three innings to close out the win.
The two teams will be back at it for two games on Saturday afternoon at McDowell Field. First pitch for game one is set for noon.