WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – The Crossroads League opened up in Florida for Grace’s baseball team on Friday.
The Lancers dispatched rival Bethel 6-4 to start the three-game series. Saturday will feature a doubleheader between the teams to decide the winner of the first league series in 2020.
Grace trusted three freshmen to pitch the nine-inning game, and the rookies did not disappoint. Tanner Clark pitched the first five innings and had seven strikeouts.
Nick Stoltzfus and Hunter Schumacher finished the game from the mound, combining to allow just one run over the final four innings. Stoltzfus got the win after tossing three innings, and Schumacher earned the save after yielding one hit in a scoreless ninth inning.
Grace’s bats were largely muted for the first half of Friday’s game. The Lancers could not push a run across in the first four innings and fell behind 3-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, Grace manufactured three runs on three hits. David Anderson singled to start the inning and reached third with two outs. Anderson alertly stole home after a passed ball.
On the next at-bat, Chris Griffin drove a double to center field, scoring two runs to tie the game at 3-3.
The Pilots scored on a bases-loaded walk in the top of the sixth to regain the lead, but Stoltzfus escaped the bases-loaded jam with a strikeout from the mound.
In the eighth, Grace dealt the definitive blow to the Pilots. The Lancers loaded the bases with two walks and a double from Anderson. Patrick Danforth then produced the go-ahead hit, singling with two outs to score Grant Buschman and Anderson.
Houston Haney scampered home from third after a passed ball to give Grace a two-run cushion at 6-4.
Schumacher took care of the rest, blanking the Pilots in the top of the ninth to secure Grace’s win.
Anderson hit 2 for 4 with two runs, and Haney went 2 for 3 with a run and a walk.
Xavier Harris batted 1 for 2 with a stolen base, and Danforth was 1 for 2 with two RBIs.