Mt. Vernon Baseball 4, Grace 3
Mt. Vernon 3, Grace 2
Grace College’s baseball team lost two games to Mt. Vernon Nazarene to close out the four-game series on Saturday afternoon.
The Lancers lost 4-3 in the first game and dropped the series finale 3-2. Both games were tightly contested throughout with the clinching run coming in walkoff fashion in both games.
The Cougars struck first in game one taking a 1-0 lead after the opening frame.
Grace struggled on offense with just two baserunners through three innings before coming alive in the fourth.
The fourth inning started off with a bang for the Lancers. Alex Rich hit the first pitch of the inning over the left field fence, tying the game at one.
Austin Carr followed up Rich’s effort with a double. Carr would eventually be driven in by Jeff Pawlik to give Grace a 2-1 lead.
Mt. Vernon responded with a pair of hits in its half of the inning to tie the game at two apiece just past the midway point.
The Lancers would threaten again in the sixth inning. Braden Compton and Patrick Danforth were on second and third with just one out, but the next two batters went down on strikes as the Cougars avoided surrendering a run.
In the bottom of the sixth, Mt. Vernon regained the lead at 3-2 with a two-out home run.
Grace would return the favor in the eight inning. After working ahead in the count, Danforth hit a ball over the fence and just beyond the glove of a leaping Cougar fielder to knot the game up at three.
The Lancers would get one on in the ninth, but their chance of taking the lead would end when the runner was thrown out trying to steal second.
Mt. Vernon loaded the bases with just one out in the ninth to set the table for the win. Lancers’ pitcher Hunter Schumacher would get a swinging strikeout for the second out, but a hard-hit ground ball from the next batter gave the Cougars the walk off 4-3 win.
Jake Decker got the start for the Lancers and pitched eight innings. He allowed three runs on six hits while striking out three.
Carr and Danforth each had two hits. Rich, Danforth and Pawlik all drove in runs.
The second game had a familiar start with the Cougars once again jumping out to an early advantage. The Cougars scored two of their three baserunners in the first to grab the lead.
Grace got off to a slow offensive start before Chris Griffin got the Lancers on the board. Leading off the fourth inning, Griffin blasted a ball over the center field fence to draw the Lancers within one.
Later in the inning Carr would reach and eventually score off of a hit from Pawlik to tie the game at two.
The pitchers began to take over as the seven-inning affair reached its conclusion.
Mt. Vernon got a runner to third base in the sixth, but the Lancers held strong to force the Cougars to strand the go-ahead run.
In the seventh Pawlik led things off with a double. The Lancers used a bunt to advance him to third, but a strikeout followed by a flyout brought the Cougars back up to bat.
After working a walk to start the inning, the Cougars doubled in the winning run for the second walkoff of the day.
Pawlik had one RBI on two hits, and Griffin reached base twice and had the Lancers’ lone home run in the game. RJ Synder and Danforth also had hits.
Kameron Koch pitched five solid innings. He allowed just two runs while striking out four. Bret Wilhelmi struck out one batter in relief.
The Lancers will return to action on Wednesday when they play Indiana Tech. Both games of the doubleheader will take place at Parkview Field (home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps) with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.
Grace Sets Three Track Program Records
Grace’s track and field teams broke three more school records on Saturday at the Manchester Invitational.
The Lancers were the runners-up for both the men’s and women’s standings, finishing behind only Trine.
Dimitri Margaritidis broke a 22-year-old record in the 5,000-meter race, placing third with a time of 15:03.02. He topped James Kennedy’s mark of 15:19.49 set in 1999.
Grace also set new records in both the men’s and women’s 4×100 relay. The men’s squad of Isaac Findley, John Green, Michael Williams and Braden Smith had a time of 42.14 seconds, beating the previous record by nearly one second.
The women’s foursome of Julia Malson, Nordia Campbell, Gracious O’Connor and Sarah O’Day eclipsed their previous record from a week ago, finishing in 48.22.
Grace impressed in the men’s 800, forming a red wall to grab the top-six places in the race. Kyle Smith led the way, winning in 1:54.12 and was followed closely by his brother Luke Smith (1:54.68). Tanner Sallee (1:54.93), Maurice Macklin (1:56.18), Isaac Beatty (1:56.25) and Derek O’Connor (1:58.25) rounded out the top six.
“Our middle distance group is one of the best in the NAIA, and they certainly showed that today in the 800,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond.
Green won the 200 in 21.71 with Findley in second at 22.20.
The men’s 4×400 relay won the race in 3:23.66 when Sallee dove across the finish line to top Trine by one one-hundredth of a second.
Isaac Brown claimed the high jump title at 6-feet-6.75, and his brother Caleb Brown won the hammer at 151-3. Abbott Joy also won the javelin with a throw of 170-11.
On the women’s side, O’Connor (12.44) and Campbell (12.46) finished 1-2 in the 100 dash.
The 200 race saw Grace claim the top four finishers, including Ashley Stoltzfus (26.29), Malson (26.32), Zoe Huley (26.57) and O’Day (27.27).
Stoltzfus also won the 400 in 1:00.93 with teammate Tara Friesen second in 1:02.23.
The women’s 4×400 team of Campbell, Huley, Lyne Camara and Malson won the relay with a time of 4:02.13.
“Despite the rain that fell much of the day, our athletes stayed focused and put together some great performances,” Raymond continued. “There were numerous personal bests from a wide variety of athletes, which shows that we are continuing to improve.”
The Lancers will return to action next week for the Little State Championships at Indiana Wesleyan (Friday and Saturday).
Grace Men’s Tennis 4, Missouri Valley 3
Grace’s men’s tennis team picked up another ranked victory with a 4-3 win over Missouri Valley.
The Lancers (21-5) came from behind to secure the victory over Missouri Valley, who is receiving votes in the NAIA.
The Vikings swept the doubles’ courts to claim an early edge, but Grace rallied in singles.
Facundo Paredes (6-2, 6-1) and Ramiro Candia (6-4, 6-2) won quickly at No. 3 and 5 singles to get Grace on track, but the Vikings won at No. 1 and 4 singles to move a point away from clinching the match.
But Mauricio Corty claimed a 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 6 singles to even the score, and David Sandi earned the winning moment at No. 2.
Sandi lost the first set but rallied to win 6-1, 6-4 over the next two to secure the match victory for the Lancers.
Next week the Lancers are scheduled to play two more ranked opponents including No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan and Lewis-Clark State (receiving votes).
Grace boasts eight wins this year over teams who were ranked or getting votes in the NAIA this year.
Lady Lancers Compete At Illinois Wesleyan Invite
Grace’s women’s golf team overcame heavy rainpour at the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational over the weekend.
The Lady Lancers were the tournament runner-up at Ironwood Golf Course.
The only team Grace trailed was Rose-Hulman, who is receiving votes in the NAIA Div. III poll. The Lady Lancers finished three shots ahead of DePauw, who is also getting votes in DIII.
“I could not be more proud of the ladies. We talked about grinding through bad weather, and they did just that. We didn’t set any records, but considering the weather our score was outstanding,” said Grace head coach Denny Duncan.
Lucy Young impressed throughout the tournament, turning in a scorecard of 81-80 to place third on the individual leaderboard.
Rebecca Hawes just missed a top-10 showing as well, carding 84-85 to place 11th overall.
Carolyn Pacocha (84-90), Rachel Harvey (86-94) and Abby Slabaugh (88-93) rounded out Grace’s top-five scorers.
“I’m very pleased with our performance on the final day. The high was 48 degrees, and we had sustained winds over 20 mph with consistent rain. But we finished strong in that harsh weather, which was a great accomplishment,” Duncan said.
The Lady Lancers return to the links on Friday and Saturday for the IU East Invitational.