FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team continued their month-long homestand on Sunday (Mar. 18) afternoon with two more games against the Capital Crusaders.
Franklin (11-1) captured a series win with their 11th straight victory in the opener, using another late-game rally to earn a 5-3 victory. Game two saw the Grizzlies' perfect season come to an end as Capital (8-8) came away with a 4-0 win, salvaging the final game of the weekend.
Game One: Franklin 5 – Capital 3
For the second straight day, the Crusaders would strike first, plating a run in the top of the third inning with a two-out, bases loaded walk. The lead wouldn't last long though, as Franklin plated two runs in their half of the inning on an RBI single from Ryan Bixler and a run-scoring double play that brought Ryan Erlandson home.
Capital would pull even with a run in the fourth and after a couple of scoreless frames, the Crusaders made it a 3-2 game with another tally in the seventh.
With just one hit in their first six trips to the plate, the Grizzlies turned to small ball to get the offense going and take the lead. Alex Mis led off the seventh with a single and Drew Naumovich and Jarrod Smith followed with bunt singles to load the bases with no outs. Brandt Pawley's RBI fielder's choice tied the game and Erlandson would plate the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze to make it 4-3.
One inning later, Jackson Freed padded the Franklin lead with a two-out, run-scoring single.
Jordan Clark would make the lead hold up, working two scoreless innings to save the game for Connor Morton (1-0), who collected his first career win. Although he didn't factor in the decision, senior Aaron Leming was brilliant for the Grizzlies, allowing one earned run and striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Game Two: Capital 4 – Franklin 0
Much like the first contest, game two was a pitcher's duel from the start. Unfortunately, game two would be dominated by Captial's Ross Thompson, who allowed four hits and walked three in a complete game shutout. Capital scored once in the fourth and eighth innings and twice in the ninth to provide their starter with a cushion to work with.
Franklin's best opportunity to put some runs on the board came in the sixth when Pawley led off with a double and Erlandson followed with a walk. But Thompson was able to wiggle out of trouble, stranding two runners to end the inning.
Mitchell Caster (1-1) worked six strong innings, scattering five hits and striking out four while allowing one run.
The Grizzlies wrap up their 12-game homestand next Saturday (Mar. 24), when they welcome Northland College to John P. McDowell Field for a pair of games. First pitch is set for noon.