The Yellow Jackets split their Monday doubleheader with the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers, winning the first game, 10-5, and losing the second, 6-4. The doubleheader was the first frame of an important four-game home stint against G-MAC foe Kentucky Wesleyan.
Despite an overall solid start from right-hander Nate Robinson, Wesleyan jumped out to an early four-run lead, blanking the Jackets through the first four innings.
Coach Mike Manes headed out to give his players a pep-talk.
“When I go to the mound, I usually just encourage the pitchers, give them a little TLC,” Manus said. “Other times I go out to talk to the catcher, talk to the defense and get them moving around.”
His encouragement worked. Robinson settled down and worked six innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs.
In the sixth inning down 4-0, the Jackets finally got to Panthers pitcher Matt Pobereyko, who had six strikeouts. Nathan Bancroft hit a single through the left-side of the infield to score catcher Jaden Cleland. A couple of bases loaded-walks tied the game 4-4.
The Jackets were back in business in the seventh inning, scoring five runs. Bancroft got on base to lead off the frame, advancing on a balk and a wild pitch. Sam Summerlin walked on four pitches, then came home on Drew Johnson’s double. Johnson, who had a huge day at the plate, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, then trotted in as designated hitter Harrison Martin singled to left. The inning ended with the Jackets up 9-4. Johnson collected his fifth hit in the eighth, scoring right fielder Colton Potter and giving relief pitcher Tyler Hurt another insurance run.
The Jackets won the game 10-5, with Hurt closing out the last three innings for his second win of the year. Johnson was perfect at the plate, going 5-for-5 with 2 RBIs.
In the nightcap, senior Steve Cardwell took the mound, giving up two earned runs in 4.2 innings of work, allowing only three hits and striking out four.
The Panthers committed three errors in the first few innings, allowing three Cedarville runs. With the bases loaded, second basemen Zach Huskey scored from third off Harrison Martin’s sacrifice fly, then Cardwell’s replacement at first base, Joey Chapman, dropped a single into center field to send home Drew Johnson.
Throughout the day the Jackets and Panthers battled a steady amount of wind. Manes said that his team has struggled with adjusting to the meteorological obstacles.
“In baseball you can’t stop and start stop and start, you’ve got to get your timing down,” he said, “and with the weather we haven’t been able to do that yet (this year).”
In the fourth Chad Klein hit a two-run dinger to left off Cardwell, who was replaced by veteran relief pitcher Connor Hamilton.
In the fifth inning, catcher Jaden Cleland gave the Jackets a 4-2 lead, ripping a pitch to left field which resulted in another run scored by Johnson.
In the sixth the Panthers drew even, tying the game 4-4. In the ninth, they scored two runs to take the lead. The Jackets got two men aboard in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t capitalize and lost the game, 6-4. Cleland went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs in the loss.
The Jackets sit at 10-10 on the year, and will play at Oakland City, Indiana on April 3 and 4.
Dave Guidone is a junior social studies education major and sports reporter for Cedars. His hobbies include eating, snacking, shooting hoops and laughing. Hebrews 13:8.