Wildcats split series with Pioneers

Freshman Ryan Lasneske throws the ball to first base to attempt to retire a baserunner from Allen County Community College in a junior varsity game Wednesday at Sauder Field. The Baker University varsity baseball team will play Peru State College Friday and Saturday at Sauder Field.

Freshman Ryan Lasneske throws the ball to first base to attempt to retire a baserunner from Allen County Community College in a junior varsity game Wednesday at Sauder Field. The Baker University varsity baseball team will play Peru State College Friday and Saturday at Sauder Field. Photo by Pat Howell.

Baker University head baseball coach Phil Hannon went into a four-game series against MidAmerica Nazarene University Friday and Saturday hoping for at least a split against the Pioneers, and that was the outcome he got.

The Wildcats won two of the four games against MNU with the help of starting pitchers Chris Cummins and Nathan Wheelock shutting down the MidAmerica Nazarene offense.

“Both of those guys are great, great competitors and they’ve really found a feel for pitching in these one-run games,” Hannon said.

Cummins started off the series by only allowing one run on three hits in Baker’s 2-1 victory.

Sophomore Brett Lechien put Baker in front 1-0 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning, but MNU tied the game at 1-1 at the top of the fifth.

Baker took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth inning when sophomore Josh Zach knocked in senior Joey Orozco with an RBI single.

In game two Friday MidAmerica Nazarene pulled away late with 10 runs in the final three frames to defeat the ’Cats 12-0.

When BU and MNU took Sauder field again Saturday, Wheelock silenced the Pioneers’ bats with a complete game shutout as the Wildcats won 1-0.

The Wildcats scored the lone run of the contest in the fifth inning when Zach came home on a ground ball from sophomore Matt Fry.

In the final game of the series, MidAmerica Nazarene bounced back with a 5-1 victory against the Wildcats.

After the two teams split the series, they remained tied in the Heart of America Athletic Conference standings at 11-7.

“I mean, along with the team, I feel pretty confident right now,” Zach said. “We have big four-game sets with (Peru State College) and Avila (University), but we control our own destiny of where we want to be.”

BU returned to action Tuesday with a nine-inning game against the University of Kansas.

The Wildcats got on the scoreboard first when senior Steven Stewart came in to score after a leadoff double to put BU up 1-0.

The Jayhawks responded with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the first take a 2-1 lead and tacked on five more runs over the next five innings to lead 7-1.

Baker did not give in as it scored two runs in the top of the seventh on a RBI groundout from junior Miles Sanderson and RBI single from sophomore Evan Cleveland.

That would be as close as Baker would get as the Jayhawks defeated the ’Cats 7-3, despite being outhit 10-9.

“I think it was a huge (moral) win just to prove that we can hit against (NCAA) Division I kids and that we should be able to hit against anybody,” senior Sean McAlister said.

Baker will resume conference play Friday and Saturday at Sauder Field against Peru State. The start of Friday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 4 p.m., while Saturday’s action will begin at 2 p.m.

The Wildcats will enter the four-game set with an overall record of 23-21 and 11-7 in the HAAC. The Bobcats are 24-15 on the season, but are 8-10 in conference play.

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