RICHMOND, Indiana - Freshman Danny Dopp delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning lifting the Earlham College baseball team to a 4-3 victory over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in the first game of the 2017 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Baseball Tournament held at Randal R. Sadler Stadium on Thursday.
Earlham will face Manchester University, which defeated Mount St. Joseph University 7-6, tomorrow (Friday) at 9:30 a.m.
"You want to be in that first game on Friday because you know you're one win away from playing on championship Saturday," head coach Steve Sakosits said. "We accomplished that, but today is over and done with. We have to move on to the next one and understand that it's the most important game we've played all year."
The Quakers opened the scoring on a sacrifice fly from senior Eric Elkus in the bottom of the first inning. The Fightin' Engineers battled back, however, as the first two runners reached base in the top of the second. Marcus Wechselberger then hit a ground ball, but a Quaker error tied the game. The RBI-groundout and a sacrifice fly that ensued gave Rose-Hulman a 3-1 lead.
"Our team battled every single inning," said Sakosits. "We didn't let that third inning dictate the entire game."
Earlham got within a single run on a sacrifice fly from senior Nate Lynch in the bottom of the second, and after senior Howie Smith faced the minimum three batters in the top of the third, an Elkus RBI-groundout in the bottom of the third tie the game 3-3.
Neither team could muster any offense in the next four innings as just one runner, Conner Shipley for the Engineers, in the fifth, reached second base.
Rose-Hulman opened the top of the eighth inning with a groundout, but Zach Trusk and Drew Schnitz both singled putting runners on the corners with one out. Sakosits made the motion to the bullpen as sophomore Walter Talcott relieved starter, senior Howie Smith.
Talcott got out of the jam with an infield popup and a strikeout, keeping the score tied 3-3. Earlham got a runner to second base in both the eighth and ninth innings, but failed to score.
After the Engineers were retired in order in the top of the 10th, senior Brennan Laird opened the bottom of the inning by reaching base via an error. An Elkus single put runners on first and second, and after sophomore Addison Robertson laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to put the winning run at third base.
Rose-Hulman elected to intentionally walk senior Cody Krumlauf, and Dopp ended the first extra inning game in the HCAC Tournament since May 10 of 2014 with a single up the middle.
Talcott earned his second win of the season for the Quakers, allowing no hits and striking out two batters in 2.2 innings work. Despite not getting the win, Smith provided Earlham with a quality start, allowing just one earned run in 7.1 innings pitched.
Earlham, which was held without a stolen base for just the fourth time this season, had 10 hits compared to eight for Rose-Hulman. Krumlauf and Isaiah Shake each finished 2-3 while Laird and senior Matt Barger each hit a double. Barger's two-base knock in the bottom of the third inning broke a tie with Jake Carr (2007-10) for the most doubles (18) in a single season in program history.
Zach Trusk and Colby Klose each had two hits to lead the Engineers in defeat.
The Quakers (27-12) and Spartans begin day two of competition in the 2017 HCAC Tournament at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) for a berth in the championship round. Rose-Hulman and Mount St. Joseph will play an elimination game at 12:30 p.m.