Lancers Sweep Rival Bethel
Grace’s baseball team all but assured itself a place in the Crossroads League Tournament with a 7-5, 8-5 sweep of Bethel at Miller Field on Thursday.
The Lancers (12-25; 11-18 CL) moved 2.5 games clear of the Pilots (11-32; 9-21 CL) for the eighth spot in the CL standings with just four games remaining in the regular season. The top eight teams in the league advance to the postseason tourney.
The Lancers got on the scoreboard quickly in the opening game, loading the bases and scoring two runs. CJ Swartz singled in Aaron Christenberry, and Brook Vosler’s sacrifice fly allowed Jacob Bloom to slide across home plate.
Grace added two more runs in the second off a solo home run by Frank Rocchio and an RBI double by Bloom.
After both teams scored a run in the third, Grace had a 5-1 lead entering the fifth. The Pilots battled back to tie the game at 5-5 with a four-run spurt.
Grace won the game in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out rally. After the Lancers’ first two batters were retired, Tyler Weber and Christenberry hit back-to-back singles. Bloom was walked to load the bases, and Joey Hickerson delivered a two-run single to put Grace ahead for good.
Dellos Schabel took care of the rest on the mound, picking up his third save of the season.
Bloom finished 2-for-2 from the plate, and Christenberry was 2-for-3. Hickerson and Swartz were 2-for-4.
In the second game, Bethel scored three runs over the first two innings to take an early lead. But Grace countered with four runs in the third to move ahead. Christenberry hit an RBI single, and Hickerson followed up two batters later with a three-run home run over the centerfield fence.
Grace’s defense came up big in the top of the fifth, eliminating a bases-loaded threat with a double play from Paul Blankley, Vosler and Steven Hovermale. In the bottom of the fifth, Christenberry singled in Blankley to increase the Lancers’ lead to 5-3.
The Pilots knotted the game in the sixth inning, scoring two runs with two outs against them. The Lancers had the answer, however, with three runs on five hits. With a runner on third, head coach Bill Barr called for a squeeze bunt. Blankley laid down the bunt to plate Logan Grigsby for the go-ahead run. Vosler and Christenberry then provided insurance runs with RBI singles.
Jason Stevens completed the game from the mound for Grace, picking up the save. Christenberry finished 3-for-4 with three runs driven in, and Vosler was 2-for-2. Bloom notched two hits and had a career-high three stolen bases.
The Lancers conclude the regular season with a series against Huntington. Grace hosts Huntington on Saturday 1 p.m. for Senior Day and will travel to the Foresters on Tuesday.