Cary, NC – The University of Findlay baseball team faced its toughest test to-date on Friday, March 9 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina as they took on the 12th-ranked team in the country, St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC), and closed the day against Dominican College. The Oilers won both games in comeback fashion to improve to 5-3 on the year. With the loss, STAC, which finished the 2017 season in third place in the NCAA DII Championship and a 44-17 record, falls to 6-3 on the year while Dominican remains winless at 0-9.
Game 1 vs No. 12 St. Thomas Aquinas (W 8-7 | Box Score)
Returning eight starters from a team that won 44 games last season, the Spartans certainly look to make another deep run in the NCAA DII Tournament. The team out of Sparkill, New York flexed their muscle early on as they would score two runs in the first inning and, after a single run by the Oilers in the third, would tack on three runs in the fourth and single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Findlay answered with a single run in the bottom of the sixth when Nic Varda scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Sam Shelt Palm. But it was the seventh inning that proved to be the difference in the contest.
The top half of the inning saw the Spartans' pinch hit for their power hitter, Giovanni Dingcong, who last season became just the third player in East Coast Conference history to hit 20 home runs in a season. Dingcong, a top 100 player in the country with MLB draft aspirations according to College Baseball Daily, struck out three times in the game. The Spartans went quietly in that half of the seventh, but looked to be in control as they still held a 7-2 lead.
Casey Gould led off the seventh with a single and, following an error by STAC's third baseman, Derrick Herd loaded the bases with a bunt single. An error by the shortstop allowed the first run to score, a walk allowed the second to score, and a groundout allowed the third to score. With the bases still loaded and the score 7-5, a groundout by Shelt Palm would score Varda to pull the Oilers to within one.
With two outs and two runners on, Josh Schwerer capitalized in the clutch as he belted a ball to center field that hit off the base of the 400-foot fence for a two-RBI double that gave Findlay the lead.
Hunter Weis started for Findlay and tossed 6.1 innings and allowed seven runs, five earned, on nine hits. He walked three and struck out eight.
Eric Schrand came out of the bullpen to earn his first win of the year, throwing 1.2 innings without allowing a hit and striking out one. Robinson earned his second save of the year with one strikeout and one hit allowed in the ninth inning.
Game 2 vs Dominican (W 6-4 | Box Score)
The Oilers would again rely on a big comeback in the second contest of the day and ultimately earned a two-run victory over Dominican College.
The Chargers got to Findlay starter Jordan Bekier for four runs in the bottom of the first inning, but the Oilers' freshman would escape a bases-loaded situation in the third, keeping the Orange and Black in the contest.
Findlay finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning when Gould singled with one out and scored when an Ethan St. Clair bunt was thrown into right field by the Chargers third baseman. After a groundout, Nic Varda roped a single to right field to score St. Clair and pull the Oilers to within two runs at 4-2.
The Oilers loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and tied the game on a single by St. Clair. With the infield drawn in, Derrick Herd hit a groundball to second base. Case Gould broke for home and forced the second baseman to throw home. He threw the ball to the backstop which allowed Gould and St. Clair to score. The 6-4 score would last the remainder of the game giving the Oilers two wins on the day.
Gould had a pair of hits in the nightcap and scored two runs while Nic Varda also had two hits in the contest. Freshman Ethan St. Clair was the big hitter, however, picking up three hits in five at-bats. He scored two runs and drove in three to lead the Oilers.
Jordan Bekier would finish with 5.0 innings pitched allowing four runs on seven hits. He walked five and struck out four. Reid Renollet would earn the win on the hill as he threw three innings of scoreless relief. Josh Robinson earned his third save of the year as he struck out two in the in the ninth inning.
Findlay will take on LIU Post tomorrow at 11:00am and will end their spring trip with a game against New York Institute of Technology at 2:30pm.