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Foresters open season with comeback wins

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington University baseball team opened up their 2019 campaign with a pair of victories over Milligan on Friday in Johnson City, Tennessee, starting the Foresters’ season record at 2–0.

In game one, things did not look promising for Huntington, as Milligan got out to a quick 2–0 lead in the first inning thanks to a two-run home run by Chance Hall.

The Buffaloes tacked onto their lead in the second inning, as a Kirby Smith groundout brought in Baily Psathas after Psathas tripled in the previous at-bat. As a result, Milligan carried a 3–0 lead into the third inning.

Hall picked up his third RBI of the day in the third inning, scoring Blake Dutton on a sacrifice fly to extend the Milligan lead to 4–0.

Brandon Laboy continued the Milligan onslaught in the fourth inning with a home run to push the Buffaloes lead to 5–0.

However, Huntington’s offense would finally get on the board in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore third-baseman Daniel Lichty reached on a walk, while senior first-baseman Adam Roser and freshman second-baseman Ian McCutcheon recorded back-to-back singles to load the bases. In the next at-bat, sophomore designated hitter Nick Davit grounded out to bring in Lichty to cut the Foresters’ deficit to 5–1.

Both Milligan and Huntington would be silent through the sixth inning, as neither team could break through to add to their score, leaving the Foresters with just three outs to mount a comeback.

Davit opened the top of the seventh inning striking out, giving Huntington just two outs to play with. However, senior right fielder Adrian Perez crushed a home run to bring the Foresters within three runs at 5–2 on the first pitch of the next at-bat, giving Huntington life.

Following two hits and a walk, the Foresters found themselves with the bases loaded and a chance to get back in the game. Senior outfielder Jacob Hansen walked to bring in a run and cut the deficit to two runs at 5–3, continuing to give the Foresters hope.

However, Lichty then struck out to record the second out of the inning and placing Milligan just one out away from a victory. Despite the dire circumstances, Huntington did not give up, as Roser scorched a double down the line in the next at-bat to tie the game at 5–5.

With the momentum clearly in their favor and runners still on the base paths, the Foresters looked to grab a lead for the first time in their season. McCutcheon did just that in the next at-bat, sending another double down the left-field line to score two runs and put Huntington up 7–5 and put a cap on the huge 6–0 inning.

Freshman pitcher Brent Turner came into the game in the bottom of the seventh inning to try to put away the comeback win for the Foresters. Turner struck out the first two hitters he faced before hitting Milligan’s next batter to bring the tying run to the plate. However, with the Buffaloes runner trying to steal to get into scoring position, freshman catcher Eli Knust gunned down the runner to record the final out for the Huntington 7–5 victory.

The second game of the doubleheader appeared to be starting much like the first, as Milligan got out to a 3–0 lead in the first inning.

Despite the early offense from the Buffaloes, both offenses would be silent until the fifth inning.

Huntington threatened in the top of the fifth inning after finding themselves with the bases loaded with two outs. The Foresters broke through thanks to a walk for Lichty, bringing in freshman infielder Satchell Wilson to cut the gap to 3–1.

However, the Buffaloes would respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to restore a three-run lead at 4–1.

But, much like the first game, the Forester offense again erupted for a six-run frame, this time in the top of the sixth inning. Huntington’s first three runs of the inning all came via bases-loaded walks to tie the game at 4–4. Lichty later singled to score Wilson and put the Foresters ahead 5–4. Roser drove in two in the next at-bat with a single to push the Huntington lead to 7–4.

The Foresters would shut down Milligan the rest of the way, as the Buffaloes could only muster two runners over the final two innings to see their imminent victory evaporate before their eyes yet again, as Huntington escaped with a 7–4 win.

The Foresters played two more games on Saturday in Tennessee against Rio Grande and Concordia, but results were not available as of The Herald-Press’s deadline.

Huntington will return to action on Feb. 15 for a pair of games in Owensboro, Kentucky. The Foresters will face Brescia at 3 p.m. and IU-South Bend at 5:30 p.m.