Trojans stave off Hornets late rally
MOUNT UNION–The Mount Union Trojans picked up a big win over Inter-County Conference rival Juniata Valley, holding off a late rally to secure a 7-5 win, on Thursday in Mount Union.
“It was exactly the game I thought it was going to be,” Trojans’ coach Tim Hicks said. “We knew their pitcher was going to throw strikes, we knew they were going to play good defense and we knew we’d have to hit.”
At the start of the game, the weather was less than ideal. A relentless breeze blew across the field toward the left field foul pole and a light, but steady, drizzle made conditions even more uncomfortable. Both starting pitchers took advantage and were in control from the first pitch.
“The conditions were tough for both teams,” Hicks said. “I thought both pitchers were doing a good job.”
The Trojans (5-2) got on the board in the top of the first as Vince Lear drove home Bryce Danish on a fielder’s choice groundout.
The game remained at 1-0 through three innings, but Mount Union blew the doors open in the bottom of the fourth, plating five runs and sending 11 batters to the plate.
Catcher Braylen Knable hit a towering drive to deep left field that carried over the fence and into the surrounding trees for a two-run home run. Two batters later with nobody on, Ian Brodbeck ripped a line drive into left field that got caught up in the stiff breeze and cleared the fence by only a few feet for the second Trojans’ home run of the inning.
Cam Donaldson drove in a run on an infield hit, and an error by Hornets’ third baseman, TJ Wilson, brought home the fifth run of the inning.
Juniata Valley (4-2) took its turn to bat around in the top of the sixth, finally breaking through against Tyler Renninger, who had allowed just six baserunners in the first five scoreless innings.
Bryant Allison drove in the Hornets’ first run of the game, as he sent a single back up the middle. Nick Morningstar followed with his second double of the game, which plated two runs. As the Trojans’ outfielders struggled to get the ball in, the trailing runner scored all the way from first.
“Defensively, we fell apart a little bit,” Hicks said. “(Juniata Valley) hit the ball well and they took advantage of some of our mistakes. We were kind of throwing the ball around there.”
On a 1-1 count, Reid Edwards blasted a home run to left field of his own, driving in two and cutting the Trojans’ lead to 6-5.
Renninger got out of the inning and the Trojans immediately picked him up.
Danish hit a double down the left field line to get the sixth inning started. Donaldson singled to right, bringing home Danish, and giving the Trojans a much-needed insurance run.
“We felt like the way the top of the sixth inning went, we had to get something, because one run didn’t feel like it was gonna do it,” Hicks said about the 6-5 lead. “It was nice to get some baserunners and it worked out for us. We’ll take it.”
Mount Union stranded Donaldson on third with nobody out, but a two-run lead was all Renninger would need, as he sat down the Hornets in order to close out the game.
“He settled down and I asked him, ‘Tyler, are you still good?’ and he said ‘I feel great. I want to go back out,’ and I figured it was his game to lose,” Hicks explained.
Hicks and his team always expect a battle from their ICC rivals, and figured that even with a 6-0 lead, they had to finish the game strong, knowing that the Hornets were capable of some late-inning magic.
“We know they’re always a good team. They play fundamentally. They’ve been hitting well. We know each other well–we play each other twice a year,” Hicks said. “We took advantage of some of their mistakes and were able to do enough to hold on in the end to win.”
Mount Union 7, Juniata Valley 5
JV 000 005 0–5-9-1
MU 100 501 X–7-9-0
WP: Tyler Renninger. LP: Landon Reed. SO: Renninger 4 (MU); Reed, Dalton Dick (JV). BB: Renninger 3 (MU); Reed 3, Dick. HR: Braylen Knable, Ian Brodbeck (MU); Reid Edwards (JV). 2B: Bryce Danish (MU); Nick Morningstar 2 (JV). MH: Cam Donaldson 3-4, Ian Brodbeck 2-3 (MU); Trey Wilson 2-4, TJ Wilson 2-4, Morningstar 2-3 (JV). RBI: Donaldson 2, Knable 2, Vince Lear, Brodbeck (MU); Edwards 2, Morningstar, Bryant Allison (JV).