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Foresters split with Pilots

RUN: Sophomore third baseman Daniel Lichty scored the game-winning run in Huntington’s 3–2 win over Bethel in game one of the teams’ doubleheader on Saturday.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington University baseball team opened their three-game Crossroads League series against Bethel on Saturday by splitting a doubleheader with the Pilots in Mishawaka, Indiana.

In game one, the Foresters battled back for a 3–2 extra innings win, while Bethel pulled off a comeback of their own in game two for a 4–1 victory over Huntington. The split pushed the Foresters’ season record to 10–7, including a 6–2 mark within the Crossroads League.

The Pilots broke through first in the second inning of the series opener to start the scoring, taking an early 1–0 lead.

Just a combined two hits were recorded over the next two innings before Bethel again threatened in the fifth inning. Junior pitcher Alex McCutcheon pegged the first two Pilots he faced in the inning to put Bethel in a good position to add to their lead. The Pilots did just that two batters later to double their advantage at 2–0.

The Forester offense had been quiet to that point in the game, failing to record a single hit throughout the first five innings of play. However, Huntington came to life in the sixth.

Freshman left fielder Collin Landrum started the inning with a walk before advancing to third base with a pair of stolen bases over the next two at-bats, both of which ended in strikeouts. With two outs on the board, it appeared as though the Foresters might again fail to tally a hit, but sophomore third baseman Daniel Lichty quickly changed Huntington’s fortunes, knocking a single to right field to score Landrum and cut the Foresters’ deficit to one run at 2–1.

Lichty advanced to third base on the play thanks to a wild throw by the Bethel defense, which proved costly for the Pilots when junior first baseman Austin Pritchard drove in Lichty on the next at-bat with another single to right to tie the game at 2–2.

Neither team could score during the rest of regulation, sending the contest to extra innings.

The good fortune continued for the Foresters in the top of the eighth, as Huntington quickly found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs. The Pilots then walked in Lichty for the go-ahead run on the next at-bat, giving the Foresters their first lead of the day at 3–2.

Bethel escaped further damage thanks to a nifty double play and strikeout to end the top half of the frame and give themselves a chance to even the score in the bottom of the inning.

However, McCutcheon would have none of that, as he quickly sent the Pilots packing in order to preserve the 3–2 comeback victory for Huntington.

In total, McCutcheon tossed all eight innings for the win on the mound, giving up five hits and one earned run while fanning 10 Bethel batters.

The Foresters quickly jumped out to a 1–0 lead in game two of the doubleheader when Landrum scored after reaching on a walk earlier in the inning.

Huntington threatened to blow open the game in the second and third innings with bases-loaded opportunities in each frame.

However, after juicing the bases with no outs in the second inning, the next three batters all recorded outs to leave the score at 1–0. Bethel again escaped unscathed in the third after the Foresters filled the bases with only one out. Through three innings, Huntington had left seven runners on base.

Luckily for the Foresters, senior pitcher DJ Moore was on his game, allowing just one hit through the first five innings of play.

Despite a strong start from Moore, the Pilots finally broke through in the sixth inning, exploding for four hits and four runs to take hold of a comfortable 4–1 lead after six innings following what felt like a game destined to go Huntington’s way.

After being stunned in the sixth, the Foresters had just three outs to mount a comeback of their own to get back in the game. Though Lichty singled with one out and advanced to second on a stolen base, that would be the closest Huntington would get, as Bethel escaped with a come-from-behind 4–1 win the game two.

Moore pitched all six innings for the Foresters and allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out five Pilot hitters.

Huntington and Bethel wrapped up their three-game series on Monday afternoon, but results were not available as of The Herald-Press’s deadline.

The Foresters will return to action on Friday when they travel to Winona Lake, Indiana, for a Crossroads League duel with Grace in the first game of a three-game slate. Opening pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.