FRANKLIN, Ind. – The #22-ranked Franklin College baseball team closed out their opening weekend series with the Albion College Britons on Saturday (Mar. 2) afternoon, using some late-game heroics in the opener to secure a series victory.
Sam Claycamp's two run double in the eighth inning of the opening game ended up being the go-ahead runs as Franklin (2-1) rallied for a 7-6 win. Game two saw the Britons (1-2) pound out 12 hits off Franklin pitching on their way to a 12-2 victory, avoiding the series sweep.
Claycamp finished the day as the team's leading run producer, knocking home three runs. Brandt Pawley collected six hits from the leadoff spot and Drew Naumovich belted his first home run of the year on Saturday.
Game One | Franklin 7 – Albion 6
Down by a run when they came to bat for the first time, the Grizzlies wasted no time erasing the early deficit. After Pawley led off the inning with a single, Claycamp would belt a pitch that landed at the base of the center field wall, scoring Pawley all the way from first to even the game. Two innings later, Pawley came in to score on a Jarrod Smith sacrifice fly, giving Franklin their first lead of the day at 2-1.
After cruising through the first four innings, Franklin starter Aaron Leming ran in to trouble in the fifth. The Britons would send eight batters to the plate in their half of the inning, plating four runs and taking the lead back at 5-2. After coughing up the lead, the Grizzlies would get a critical run in their half of the inning when Alex Mis singled home Claycamp to cut the deficit to 5-3.
One inning later, the Grizzlies rallied to even the game back up at five. With one out, Quenton Wellington continued his hot start to the year by ripping a triple into the left center field gap that plated Matt Olovich. One batter later, the game was tied when Pawley laid down a perfect bunt that went for a hit and brought Wellington across the dish.
The Britons re-took the lead with two outs in the top of the eighth, but a familiar trio would combine to put Franklin in front for good in their final at-bat of the game. Wellington walked to lead off the inning, followed by Pawley's fourth single of the game to open the threat. Both would advance to third on a wild pitch with one out, when Claycamp ripped a double into left, scoring two and putting Franklin back in front.
Albion put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, but Nate Stonebraker (1-0) was able to shut the door on the last two hitters of game one and earn the win. Leming allowed two earned and struck out six over five innings of work. Mitch Merica tallied 2 2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen, his longest career outing.
Game Two | Albion 12 – Franklin 2
Both starting pitchers made quick work of the other team's lineup over the first three innings before the Britons busted things open in the fourth, scoring five times in the frame. Franklin got on the board in their half of the fourth when Naumovich blasted a two-out offering over the right field wall to make it a 5-1 game.
But unlike the opener, the Grizzlies weren't able to shift momentum in their direction as the Britons tacked on two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the seventh. Franklin plated their final run of the day on an RBI groundout by Smith, but managed just four hits and left 10 runners on in the night cap.
Making his first career start for the Grizzlies, Krae Sparks (0-1) struck out four and walked three over four innings of work. Jacob Heuchan, Ethan Adams, Nick Elmendorf and Dexter Shuler all made their first appearances of the year in relief.
Franklin is back in action at John P. McDowell Field on Friday, Mar. 8, opening a three-game series with Hope College. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.