WESTFIELD, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team opened up Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) play on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Transylvania Pioneers on a cold and blustery day at Grand Park.
The Grizzlies' (17-1, 2-0 HCAC) stayed hot, racking up two more wins on Saturday to run their winning streak to six. Franklin rallied in game one before pulling away late for an 11-3 win. Game two saw the Grizzlies erase another early Pioneer (8-10, 0-2 HCAC) lead on their way to a 7-5 win.
Junior Drew Naumovich paced the Franklin offense with five hits, six RBI and two massive home runs in game one. Ryan Erlandson had five hits and drove in five runs, three coming on a go-ahead triple that put Franklin in front for good in game two.
Game One: Franklin 11 – Transylvania 3
The Pioneers jumped out to a lead in their first trip to the plate, but Franklin would erase that deficit when Frank Podkul drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the first.
Transy snuck runs home in the third and fifth innings to re-take the lead. Naumovich made the lead evaporate in the bottom of the fifth inning with an opposite-field two-run shot that tied the game at three. Two innings later, Franklin had their first lead of the day thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from Erlandson and Ryan Bixler that made it a 5-3 game.
One inning later, Naumovich landed the knockout punch, belting a one-out pitch over the left center field wall for his first career grand slam. Later in the eighth, Erlandson added to the lead with a sac fly, followed by a Bixler RBI single that capped the scoring.
It was more than enough help for Christian Sullivan (4-0), who tossed eight innings of four-hit ball with three walks and 10 strikeouts. It's the second time the Schererville, Ind.-native racked up double-digit strikeouts in a game.
Game Two: Franklin 7 – Transylvania 5
Once again, the Pioneers got the early jump on Franklin, scoring a pair of unearned runs in the first. Franklin would counter in the first when Erlandson swiped third and scored on an errant throw. Transy plated two more runs in the second, but the Grizzlies cut the lead to 4-2 when Mis scored on a balk in the bottom of the second.
The Pioneers would hold on to the lead until the bottom of the fourth when the Grizzlies started up their go-ahead rally. Mis walked to lead off the inning, followed by a Naumovich single and a Jarrod Smith walk to load the bases. With one out in the inning, Erlandson ripped a ball down the right field line, clearing the bases with a triple to make it a 5-4 game.
The Grizzlies added some insurance in the bottom of the seventh with consecutive RBI singles from Smith and Brandt Pawley to make it a 7-4 game. Transy would add a run in the eighth on a wild pitch, but get no closer as the FC bullpen closed out the win.
Aaron Leming (4-0) struck out a career-high 10 batters over 7 2/3 innings of work, allowing four hits and walking five batters. Alex Reinoehl needed just 12 pitches over the final 1 1/3 innings to nail down his second save of the year.
Franklin resumes conference play this coming Tuesday (Apr. 3), when they welcome Hanover College to John P. McDowell Field for a pair of conference showdowns. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.