STERLING—The McPherson College baseball team earned a split in Saturday's doubleheader against the Sterling College Warriors, falling in game one, 5-3, but bouncing back in the series finale and winning game three, 5-2. The split earned the Bulldogs a 2-1 series win, their sixth of the season.
In the opening game of the day, the Bulldogs gave Dylan Marble the ball on the bump to start the game. Marble gave the Bulldogs six strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He had good command of his pitches, filling up the strike zone, recording six strikeouts and just one walk. When he left the game after the sixth, the game was tied. The Bulldogs failed to score any runs in their half of the seventh so Marble didn't factor into the decision.
In the seventh inning, Jake Herman was called out of the bullpen in relief of Marble. Herman worked just two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on one hit, a two-run home run that ended up being the game winner. Herman's stat line also included two strikeouts and one walk, and he was collared with the loss. The last inning and a third was pitched by Jordan Keanini. Keanini faced four Warrior hitters, holding them hitless and scoreless, and finishing with one strikeout.
At the plate, the Bulldog hitters were held to three runs on just four hits. All four hits were singles from three different Bulldogs. McCoy Pearce had the only multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-4 with one RBI. Jakob Shields and Mark Strebin had the other two hits for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs led the game 3-2 through the first three innings. In the fifth inning, the Warriors tied the game, then took the lead, for the first time in the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Bulldogs had two more chances, but left two runners stranded in the eighth, then went down in order in their final at bat.
The Bulldogs bounced back and salvaged the series by winning the finale, 5-2 behind the arms of Mairion Brunken, Garrett Connor and Jarrod Manick. Brunken worked the first two innings, giving up one run to the Warriors, on no hits, recording three strikeouts and one walk. Connor followed Brunken, and worked the next three innings. His line included one run on three hits with zero strikeouts and walks. Because Brunken didn't throw the required minimum number of four innings to factor into the decision, the win ended up going to Connor. Manick pitched the final inning, picking up the save, keeping the Warriors off the scoreboard in their final at bat.
The Bulldog offense was little more potent in game two as well. They finished with five runs on six hits led by Kristopher Perez, who was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Brevin Baessler, Kyle Lux, Lane Fleming and Strebin joined Perez in the hits column.
Like the first game of the day, the Bulldogs again jumped out to a quick lead over the Warriors, leading 3-1 through two innings. They extended the lead to 5-1 with two more runs in the fourth before the Warriors added a run in the fifth to make it 5-2. That score would hold up as the Bulldogs were able to shut the Warriors down in the final two innings.
"This series I think was some of the best baseball we've played this year," said Bulldog Hitting Coach Kyle MacKinnon. "The pitching staff bounced back nicely and was competitive all day, just the long ball got us in game one. Defensively we were clean all weekend and we continued to have competitive at bats and hit with runners in scoring position."
The split puts the Bulldogs at 15-9 overall, and 8-5 in the KCAC. They will be back on the diamond again on Wednesday in non-conference double header against Doane College. The double header is slated to start at 12 p.m. and will be played out at Bulldog Park.