FRANKLIN, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team celebrated Senior Day on Saturday (Apr. 28) at John P. McDowell Field in the best way possible – with two more wins over a conference opponent.
Game one saw the Grizzlies (31-2, 13-1 HCAC) walk it off against the Lions (13-19, 4-9 HCAC) with a bases loaded free pass in a 2-1 win. The Grizzlies jumped out to a massive lead in game two, using an eight-run second inning to set the tone for an 11-1 win. The sweep gives the Grizzlies 11 straight wins, matching a season-best winning streak.
Seniors Frank Podkul and Ryan Erlandson had three hits each with Erlandson collecting the game-winning RBI in game one. Additionally, the Blaine, Minn.-native became the program's single-season record holder for walks in a year, drawing four free passes on the day to give him 43 for the year.
Game One: Franklin 2 – Mount St. Joseph 1
The Lions had the first quality scoring chance of the day, loading the bases with one out in the top of the second. But Franklin starter Christian Sullivan would wiggle out of trouble with a strikeout and a fielder's choice to close out the frame.
Both offenses would struggle to get going with the opener remaining scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. Nick Wright broke the scoreless tie, singling home Ryan Bixler with one out. The lead was short-lived as the Lions knotted things up in the top of the seventh with a two-out RBI single. Both offenses came up empty in the eighth, setting the stage for a dramatic bottom of the ninth.
Podkul led off the frame with a double, followed by a perfectly placed bunt single from Alex Mis and an intentional walk to Drew Naumovich to load the bases. The next two batters were unable to produce a run, bringing Erlandson to the plate with the game on his bat. After setting a new program record for walks earlier in the game, the senior closed out game one as only he knew how – by drawing a walk-off walk.
Sullivan allowed just three hits and struck out five over seven innings of work before giving way to Mitchell Caster (3-1). Caster allowed one hit and struck out three over the final two innings to earn the win.
Game Two: Franklin 11 – Mount St. Joseph 1
The Lions took their first lead of the day with an unearned run in the first, but Franklin would get it right back in their first at-bat with an RBI double from Bixler. It proved to be just the start for the Franklin offense as the flood gates opened in inning number two.
Jarrod Smith scored on a throwing error to put the Grizzlies in front with Bixler adding two more runs with his second double of the game to make it 4-1. Bixler would score later on a wild pitch and Franklin would get RBI singles from Naumovich and Smith before the inning ended and the home team held a 9-1 lead.
The Grizzlies added a run in the fourth when Smith swiped home as part of a double steal. Mitch Schuman capped the scoring for the Grizzlies, driving in a run in the eighth on a bases loaded walk.
Aaron Leming (6-0) allowed three hits, walked four and struck out one over five inning of work to earn the W for Franklin. Ben Sprinkle, Nate Stonebraker, Chandler Cardenas and Jordan Clark combined to allow just two hits over the final four innings.
Franklin hits the road on Tuesday (May 1) afternoon, traveling to Anderson, Ind. for a pair of games against the Anderson Ravens. The Grizzlies sit two games ahead of the Ravens in the HCAC standings, and a sweep would clinch the HCAC regular season title for Franklin.
First pitch is set for noon.