RICHMOND, Ind. – During a community luncheon last week, Earlham College Head Baseball Coach Steve Sakosits was talking to the guests at his table about his team's recent spate of late inning, walk-off or one-run victories and made a wry observation.
"Exciting for the fans. Not so exciting for the coach," said a smiling Sakosits.
Sakosits' cardiac Quakers delivered another stress-testing thriller for fans and coaches alike on Tuesday at Sadler Stadium, with Danny Dopp delivering a ninth inning two-out single into left-center field to score pinch runner James Grace and lift Earlham to a 4-3 victory over Mount St. Joseph.
The walk-off victory was the Quakers' fourth walk-off victory over its last seven contests.
Earlham was unable to find the comeback magic in game two of the twinbill, and dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Lions.
Mount St. Joseph took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning, plating one run on a Luke Bowman single and two more on Brandon Muel's base hit.
Earlham rallied to recover two of those runs in the fifth. Brian Pincura reached on a leadoff double, and crossed on an Alec Bryan single. Bryan came home later in the frame on an Addison Robertson base hit.
The Quakers were unable to safely get a runner past second base in each of the next three innings, and the Lions were one out away from the win after retiring the first two Earlham batters in the ninth.
Bryan breathed life into Earlham's chances with his two-out single up the middle and moved into scoring position on a walk drawn by Marc Gendreau, who was lifted for pinch runner Grace. Robertson singled home Bryan to tie the game at 3-3 while advancing Grace to second, and Dopp laced a single into the left-center gap to bring home Grace for the win.
Robertson finished the game 4-for-5 at the plate with two runs batted in, while Bryan was 3-for-4.
Quaker reliever Matt Mathies picked up the win, after pitching two hitless innings with one strikeout. MSJ's Garrett Hogan was tagged with the loss for his one-and-two-thirds innings on the mound.
Mount St. Joseph again went in front early with a two-run third inning. Simon Schaef doubled home Trevor Theuerling for the first Lions run, and Nathan Hunter crossed later in the inning on Garrett Hogan's grounder to short.
The Quakers got one of those runs back in the fourth. Robertson reached on a leadoff single, went to second on a wild pitch, stole third and then scored on an ensuing throwing error by the Mount St. Joseph catcher.
Another Lion error led to Earlham's second run, after Ian Bach got aboard with a leadoff double in the seventh. Bach was lifted for a pinch runner in Grace, who promptly scored when Brian Pincura's sacrifice bunt was thrown away by Mount first baseman Muel. That allowed Grace to cross from second, tying the game at 2-2.
Mount St. Joseph took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth, after Luke Bowman opened the frame with a double to left-center. He was singled over to third by Darren Sackett, eventually scoring on Muel's double play grounder to second.
The Quakers were retired in order in the ninth to allow the Lions to escape Sadler Stadium with the win.
Earlham was held to just four hits in game two, with Lions starter Brandon Shelton finishing the night with 10 strikeouts over six innings in a no-decision appearance. Reliever Wyatt Myers got the win for MSJ, while Quaker reliever Spencer Owen was charged with the loss.
Earlham Baseball is back in action on Wednesday night when it hosts Adrian College at 4:00 p.m. at Sadler Stadium. The Bulldogs are currently ranked no. 25 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association/D3baseball.com poll.
For more information about Earlham baseball, visit the online home of Earlham College athletics at www.GoEarlham.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Earlham athletics news by following Earlham Quakers on Facebook (Earlham Quakers Athletics), Twitter (@EarlhamQuakers), and Instagram (EarlhamQuakers).