RECAP | Eighth Inning Rally in Opener Gives Grizzlies Series Win Over Wilmington

Photo courtesy of Angie Palmer
Photo courtesy of Angie Palmer

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Franklin College baseball team headed to Bishop Chatard High School on Sunday (Mar. 17) afternoon to wrap up their three-game weekend series with the Wilmington Quakers.

Franklin (4-3) claimed the series victory with a 9-8 win in game one, scoring six times in the eighth inning for a thrilling comeback victory. Game two was all Quakers (3-11), as Wilmington came out swinging to salvage a win with an 18-9 victory. 

Game One: Franklin 9 – Wilmington 8
Franklin fell into an early 4-0 hole as Wilmington used an aggressive approach at the plate to get the early jump on starter Ben Sprinkle. After going hitless in the first two innings, Franklin got on the board in the bottom of the third when Ryan Bixler singled Quenton Wellington home with two outs in the inning, cutting the deficit to 4-1.

Jordan Clark cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth, bringing home Drew Naumovich with two outs in the frame. One inning later, Bixler brought the Grizzlies within a run when he ripped an RBI triple into the right center field gap, scoring Brandt Pawley.

Wilmington padded their lead with runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, making it a 6-3 game as Franklin came to bat with six outs left. That's when the Grizzlies' high-powered offense stepped up and swung the game in their favor for good.

With two on and one out, Jacob Bryant roped a double into the right center field gap, cutting the lead to one. With two on and two out in the inning, Bixler roped a two-strike pitch over the wall in right center field for his first home run of the year and the first lead of the day for the Grizzlies. Drew Naumovich capped off the scoring with an RBI single to right to make it a 9-6 game on the way to the final inning.

Wilmington scored twice in the ninth and had runners on second and third with two out. But Nate Stonebraker would get the final out of the game via strikeout, saving his third game of the year. Sprinkle lasted seven innings in his first start of the year, scattering 10 hits and striking out a pair. Ethan Adams (1-0) worked the eighth inning to earn his first career victory.

Game Two: Wilmington 18 – Franklin 9
Franklin jumped out to the early lead with four runs in their first trip to the plate. Pawley swiped home on a double steal and Naumovich, Jarrod Smith and Bryant would follow with run-scoring hits. Naumovich added a run to the lead in the second, bringing home Bixler with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2 Franklin after two.

But the next two innings would ultimately decide the game, as Wilmington brought 11 runners across the plate in the third and fourth innings combined. Franklin would plate two in the fourth and one in both the sixth and seventh innings, but the deficit proved to be too much to overcome.

Bixler and Sam Claycamp finished with three hits in the night cap. Naumovich and Smith finished the second game with a pair of RBI each. Nick Elmendorf (0-1) made his first career start, fanning three and walking three over 2 2/3 innings of work.

Franklin heads back out on the road on Tuesday (Mar. 19), traveling to Crestview Hills, Ky. for a single game against Thomas More. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m.