GRANVILLE, Ohio -- The Big Red baseball split their North Coast Athletic Conference West Division series opener with Wittenberg on Saturday afternoon. Denison run-ruled the Tigers 12-2 in game one before dropping the nightcap 7-3.
In the opener, the offense provided starter Zack Huarte plenty of support. A sacrifice fly in the second by Noah Hahn got DU on the board, while a base hit two batters later from Tucker Davison extended the lead to 2-0. In the fourth, Davison and Vince Walker each provided SAC flies as they drove in Phil Papaioannou and Hahn to push the advantage to 4-0.
The Big Red blew the game open in the fourth with four runs on the strength of five hits and a pair of Tiger throwing errors. Papaioannou sent a two-run single through the left side that plated Tanner Johnson and Eric Zmuda. A throwing error on a bunt single by Hahn allowed Jack Blanchard to touch the dish, while an infield single to third from Sam Frazen scored Papaioannou.
Wittenberg picked up single runs in both the sixth and seventh frames, but another four spot in the seventh brought the game to an end. With the bases loaded and one out, Davison crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Michael Flynn. Flynn proceed to issue a free pass to Zmuda to re-fill the bases. Johnson and Blanchard were each hit by a pitch driving in Walker and Evan Flax, respectively. Papaioannou brought the game to an end with a single through the left side that scored Zmuda.
Papaioannou, Zmuda, Hahn and Davison all finished with two hits, while Papiannou knocked in three runs to go along with two runs scored. Zmuda and Blanchard also touched the plate twice, while Davison finished with two RBIs. One of the most interesting offensive lines of the day came from Johnson who reached base in all five plate appearances without recording an official at-bat. The junior drew a walk in his first three trips to the dish and was hit in his final two appearances. Johnson finished with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.
Huarte (6-0) went all seven innings, allowing two runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and no walks. His counterparts had quite the different outing. Wittenberg starter Jonathon Forster (3-5) allowed eight runs on eight hits with seven walks and one hit batter in five innings, while Flynn finished with five hit batters and a walk over the final 1.1 innings.
The Tigers had a better start in game two, scoring four unearned runs in the top of the first inning. Despite the rough start, Perley Provost surrendered just three hits over the next six scoreless frames to give his offense a shot to battle back. In the third, Zmuda delivered a two-run single up the middle to cut the deficit in half. Sophomore Nick Pettigrew and Davison scored on the base hit. Zmuda close the gap to one in the seventh with a base hit to right that scored Blanchard. Unfortunately, a three-run eighth by Wittenberg set the final score at 7-3.
Zmuda finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a stolen base, while freshman Jake Ryder also had a pair of hits. Provost (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing seven runs (three earned) on nine hits in 7.1 innings of work. He also struck out four and walked two.
The Big Red (21-8, 6-4 NCAC West) will wrap up their four-game series with Wittenberg (10-19, 5-9 NCAC West) on Sunday. Game one is slated to begin at 12 p.m.