EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The McKendree University baseball team rapped out 15 hits and rallied from an early four-run deficit to defeat Wayne State College on Saturday in the Bearcats' 2014 season opener in Evansville, Ind., 13-6. McKendree is participating in the Dunn Hospitality Classic, which is being hosted by the University of Southern Indiana.
Senior shortstop Tony Kossina (Belleville West) led the offensive charge with four hits, while five other players collected two hits apiece as McKendree earned its first victory in a season opener since 2010. The Bearcats will play two games on Sunday at the Dunn Hospitality Classic, meeting Wayne State again at 11 a.m. before facing Augustana College (S.D.) in the finale at 2 p.m.
Wayne State (2-3) jumped out to a 4-0 lead by scoring two runs each in the second and third innings off McKendree sophomore left-hander Sam Lidisky (Althoff). The Bearcats responded by plating six runs in the top of the fourth inning to take the lead for good at 6-4. Freshman infielder Zach Klockowski started the uprising with a single. Junior first baseman Jeff Tolliver (Salem) followed with a single, and junior infielder Pierce Borah (Mount Vernon) reached on an error that allowed Klockowski to score the first run of the season for McKendree.
Another Wayne State error brought home Tolliver with the second run before senior catcher Tyler Collins delivered an RBI single to bring home Borah and trim the Bearcats' deficit to 4-3. After a bunt single by Kossina, senior outfielder Steven Todoschuk produced an RBI single to knot the contest at 4-4. Two batters later, Klockowski closed out the six-run frame with a two-run single to push the Bearcats out to a 6-4 lead.
The Wildcats scored a run in the bottom of the fourth to pull back within 6-5 before McKendree added another tally in the sixth. Junior third baseman Jake Kline reached on a one-out error and came around to score on an errant pickoff play to regain a two-run advantage for the Bearcats.
McKendree took control in the final three innings, outscoring Wayne State 6-1 in the process. Freshman outfielder Grant Anderson opened a two-run seventh inning for the Bearcats with a walk. He came around to score when Kossina reached on another Wildcats' error. Kline brought Kossina home with a sacrifice fly to stretch the Bearcats' lead to 9-5. Wayne State tallied its final run in the bottom of the seventh to pull within 9-6.
In the eighth inning, McKendree scored three times to take a 12-6 lead. Anderson and Collins delivered back-to-back RBI doubles, while Collins came around to score on a run-scoring triple off the bat of Kossina. The Bearcats' final run came in the ninth inning thanks to a leadoff walk by Kline and an RBI infield single by Anderson.
Klockowski and Anderson each had a pair of hits in their collegiate debuts for McKendree. Collins, Todoschuk and junior outfielder Kyle Rutledge also produced a pair of hits in the contest for the Bearcats.
Lidisky allowed four earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in drawing the season-opening start for McKendree. Senior right-hander Ben Dallesasse picked up the win in relief, giving up just one run and four hits over 3 1/3 innings of work. Dallesasse struck out four in the win.
Sophomore left-hander Josh Tonozziand senior right-hander Jon Trampe (Metro East Lutheran) combined to shut the door on Wayne State over the final 2 1/3 innings. The duo combined to strike out five Wildcats' hitters in the process.