Sophomore designated hitter Mitchell Raley hit a walk-off single – part of a four-hit game – to help the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team salvage a doubleheader split against visiting Capital Tuesday afternoon at Littick Field in Delaware.
Raley’s game-winner capped a ninth-inning rally where the Battling Bishops (1-2) turned a one-run deficit into an 8-7 victory in the second game after dropping the first contest 19-0.
“It’s the second game of the year. We caught these guys coming back from Florida – so they have nine games under their belt,” OWU coach Tyler Mott said. “So, we’re still a little green. We’ve got a lot of first-year players. But, I thought we got a lot better today – certainly from game one to game two.”
Jon Erhard opened the ninth with a single off Capital reliever Alex Mukensturm.
Pinch runner Nick Sala moved to second on a fielder’s choice after Mukensturm threw late to second on Austin Harper’s sacrifice bunt attempt.
“We executed a good two-strike approach to get the leadoff hitter on and then executed a few bunts and that’s the game,” Mott said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to preach to the guys. It’s not who you play – it’s just executing pitches — that’s all it is.”
Michael Blatchford tied the game after a Colin Stolly sac bunt and an intentional walk to Cole Antle loaded the bases, setting up Raley’s walk-off hit.
“I felt like we needed a little bit of a lift today,” Raley said. “I saw a few pitches to hit. I just swung early in counts when I got good stuff to hit.”
Mukensturm (0-1) was saddled with the loss for the Crusaders, tossing one-third of an inning in relief. He allowed two runs (both earned) on three hits and a walk.
Raley started the second-game scoring with a single to lead off the second and later scored on an error.
Matt Deskins pushed the lead to 4-0 with a three-run home run over the left-center wall in the next at-bat.
“I think it got our team morale up,” Raley said. “We were able to string some consistent innings together where we were able to at least put up a run. I’m really proud of the way we were able to come around and keep our heads up.”
Deskins gave OWU a 5-4 lead in the bottom half of the frame with a single to score Raley, who reached on a single with one out.
Raley doubled to lead off the OWU fifth, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a Trevor Taus sacrifice fly to push the Bishop lead to 6-4.
The Crusaders (7-4) tied the game 6-6 on an error by OWU reliever Justin Grubb that scored two runs and took a 7-6 lead on a wild pitch by Tom Ryan in the eighth.
Drew Ellis led off the Capital eighth with a hit and scored the go-ahead run on a Tom Ryan wild pitch.
Cody Brown (1-1) got the win in relief for OWU. He tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless ball, allowing two hits and struck out three.
It was a good come-back effort for the Bishops, who got knocked around in the first game.
“It was embarrassing … it was a rough game one. We didn’t play as a team,” Raley said. “I think we did a really good job as a team pulling together between games.”
Daniel Walters gave the Crusaders a 2-0 lead with a single and Ellis followed with a RBI base hit to give Capital a 3-0 lead through one.
Capital pushed it to 4-0 on an error in the third before blowing it open with 15 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings off OWU relief pitching.
“In nine-inning games – that’s what you’re going to get if you don’t execute,” Mott said.
Kevin Zullo took the loss for the Bishops in the first game after giving up nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits, a walk and a hit-batter. He had five strikeouts.
Ellis proved to be a tough out for the Bishops on the day. He led with four hits and drove in three runs in the opener and followed it up with three more hits and two runs in the second game.
Joseph Borkey got the win in the first game for the Crusaders after tossing six shutout innings, allowing just three hits with seven punch outs.
Next up, OWU heads to Florida for six games in five days, beginning with Arcadia Monday at 11 a.m. in Port Charlotte.