EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The McKendree University baseball team was handed its first two losses of the 2014 season on Sunday, dropping a pair of games at the Dunn Hospitality Classic in Evansville, Ind. The University of Southern Indiana served as host of the weekend event.
In Sunday's opener, McKendree hooked up with Wayne State College in a pitcher's duel. The teams needed 11 innings to decide a winner, where Wayne State scored a run in the top of the frame to collect a 1-0 win. The Bearcats were then defeated by Augustana College (S.D.) in the nightcap, 11-4.
McKendree is now 1-2 on the year and will play at home for the first time this season on Tuesday, when Maryville University comes to Hypes Field for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
In game one, McKendree freshman left-hander Brad Henry (Alton) was impressive in his collegiate debut. Henry allowed just two hits over six innings of work in getting the start on the mound. Henry walked four and struck out four batters. The Bearcats' bullpen was just as sharp, giving up just three hits over the final five innings of the marathon contest. Sophomore lefty Josh Tonozzi was the hard-luck loser for McKendree, giving up a pair of hits in the 11th inning.
Each team stranded 11 runners in the contest. McKendree stranded a runner at third base in four different innings, including the first and 11th frames. Meanwhile, Wayne State broke a scoreless tie by pushing across the lone run of the game in the top of the 11th inning. Curtis Bussard led off with a double off Tonozzi, and C.J. Nolen followed with a bunt single. Two batters later Jake Perez brought home Bussard by grounding into a fielder's choice.
McKendree threatened in the bottom of the frame. Senior catcher Kolton King came up as a pinch-hitter to lead off the inning and drew a walk. Freshman infielder Justin Becker (Breese Central) came on to run and advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt by junior infielder Pierce Borah (Mount Vernon). Becker eventually reached third base before Bussard, who came on in relief for the Wildcats, got the final out to preserve the win for Wayne State.
Senior outfielder Steven Todoschuk had two of the Bearcats' six hits in the game. Senior shortstop Tony Kossina (Belleville West) collected the lone extra-base hit for McKendree, a double in the fifth inning.
In game two, Augustana built a 3-1 lead after two innings of play, then pulled away in the middle innings to notch the seven-run victory over McKendree. The Vikings grabbed an early lead with two runs in the first inning before the Bearcats plated their first run of the day in the top of the second inning. Junior infielder Jake Kline led off with a double and came around to score on an RBI single by freshman outfielder Grant Anderson. Augustana responded by plating a run in the bottom of the second to regain a two-run advantage at 3-1.
The Vikings broke the game open with two runs in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth to stretch their lead to 9-1. McKendree chipped away at the deficit with a run in the seventh inning thanks to a leadoff double from Anderson and a run-scoring single off the bat of Kossina. The Bearcats posted a two-run eighth inning to trim the deficit to 9-4. Freshman infielder Zach Klockowski reached on a one-out single, and junior first baseman Jeff Tolliver followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position.
Klockowski scored on a balk before Anderson lifted a sacrifice fly to deliver Tolliver with the Bearcats' final run of the contest. Augustana closed out the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to account for the final margin.
Senior right-hander Cole Wille (Collinsville) was nicked for the loss on the mound for McKendree. Wille allowed three earned runs and three hits over four innings with a pair of strikeouts.