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DU splits Sunday doubleheader with Amherst and Wooster

Jack Blanchard  |  Photo by Mindi Flax
Jack Blanchard | Photo by Mindi Flax

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- On the second day of their spring trip in the Sunshine State, the Big Red baseball team split a pair of games on Sunday in Port Charlotte, Fla., defeating Amherst College, 4-0, in the opener before losing to the No. 6 ranked College of Wooster, 18-1, in the afternoon contest.

In the first game of the day against Amherst, starting pitcher Danny Brackman & Co. worked a six-hit shutout for the Big Red as the DU offense backed them up with three runs in the first two innings of play.

Brackman, who made his first start since the 2017 campaign, sat three of the first four Mammoth batters down on strikes as he allowed two hits in three innings of work with three strikeouts.

In the bottom of the second, the Denison bats began to ignite after senior Sam Frazen opened the inning with a single to left field and sophomore Will Krushena launched a two-run home run to give the Big Red an early 2-0 lead.

After Nick Pettigrew flew out to center in the next at-bat and Brian McAuliffe followed with a triple, senior Jack Blanchard drove the runner home from third with a sacrifice fly out to center that put Denison up 3-0 entering the third inning.

Holding onto the 3-0 advantage, head coach Mike Deegan went to his bullpen to open the fourth, handing the relief work to the senior righty, Andrew Bruss. Just like Brackman, Bruss kept Amherst off the board, allowing no runs on three hits in 3.1 innings on the mound.

The outstanding pitching continued in the top of the seventh when Mikey Rivera entered the game with one out in the inning. With a runner on third, Rivera got Severino Simeone to strike out swinging, and after Kai Terada-Herzer put runners at first and third with a walk, the junior right-hander got out of the jam when Max Steinhorn tapped a grounder to third and Terada-Herzer was thrown out at second.

The Big Red added an insurance run in the home half of the inning when Blanchard hit an RBI double to left center, scoring McAuliffe from first to lead 4-0 entering the eighth.

Allowing one hit in the final two innings of action, Rivera recorded his first save of the season in two and two-thirds innings pitched to give the DU pitching staff a combined shutout with nine total strikeouts.

Krushena and Blanchard recorded two RBI's each in the win, while McAuliffe went 1-for-2 with two runs scored.

While it was the Big Red pitchers that stole the show in the first game, it was the Fighting Scots who took control on the hill and at the plate in the second game.

Recording four runs in the first two innings of play, Wooster's Brian Murray earned the victory after allowing five hits in six innings of action with three strikeouts. The offense continued to back him up with seven more runs over the next six innings of baseball.

An RBI double in the bottom of the eighth from Matt Bonollo put the Big Red on the board, but the Wooster offense was too much to handle as they moved to 5-2 on the season. Denison finished the day at 6-3 overall.

The Big Red will wrap up their time in Port Charlotte on Monday, March 19 when they take on fourth-ranked North Central College (Ill.) with a first-pitch scheduled for 12:00 p.m.