Lancers Nearly Sweep St. Francis
Grace’s baseball team came within two outs of sweeping St. Francis on Saturday at Miller Field.
The Lancers (9-18; 8-11 Crossroads League) had to settle for a split with the Cougars (9-22; 5-9 CL), winning 9-2 in the opener and falling 12-11 in the second game.
Grace opened the scoring in the second inning. Jacob Bloom was hit by a pitch to start the inning and eventually came around to score on a single by Jared Lemler. Tyler Weber scored on a passed ball, and Joey Hickerson drove in two runs with a two-out single up the middle.
CJ Swartz singled in another run in the third to increase Grace’s lead to five.
St. Francis got its first run with a solo home run in the fourth and added another score in the fifth, but Grace countered with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. Swartz brought in two more runs with a single through the infield, and Joe Dougherty hit a sacrifice fly ball to score another. Hickerson then showed tremendous speed with a diving effort at first base to beat out the throw for a bases-loaded infield single.
For the game Swartz finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs, and Hickerson was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Bloom scored three times, and Weber scored twice.
Sammy Wilkerson was effective on the mound, allowing six hits and two runs in five innings. Logan Grigsby pitched the final two innings without allowing a hit.
The second game was a slugfest with 23 combined runs and 33 hits. Grace and St. Francis scored in every inning except for the sixth. The Lancers scored one run in the second, third and seventh innings, two runs in the fifth, and three runs in the first and fourth.
Grace led 10-9 after Jacob Bloom and Wyatt Clemens drove in runs during the fifth inning. After neither team scored in the sixth, St. Francis rallied in the top of the seventh. The Cougars tied the game with one out and went on to add two insurance runs, which proved to be crucial.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Lancers had the beginnings of a rally when Aaron Christenberry and Bloom doubled to score a run with one out. But needing one more run, Grace was retired with two straight fly outs.
Christenberry and Bloom finished 2-for-2 with two doubles and three runs scored apiece, and Paul Blankley drove in two runs with a triple in the fourth inning. Swartz was 3-for-4, Jared Lemler was 2-for-3, and Joey Hickerson finished 2-for-5.
Grace and St. Francis will tangle again on Tuesday in Ft. Wayne with the first pitch set for 2 p.m.