Carr’s High-Octane Offense Fuels Goshen’s Second Straight Tourney Upset
UPLAND, Ind. — Preston Carr started the game with a leadoff home run and finished the afternoon with five hits, five runs, three home runs and six RBI as seventh-seeded Goshen trounced third-seeded Marian 14-4 in winners’ bracket action of the Crossroads League baseball tournament Monday at Taylor’s Winterholter Field.
The St. Thomas, Ontario, native left the yard in his first plate appearance, singled leading off the second, added another one-out homer in the third, scored Spenser Triplett on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, singled to drive in Colby Malson in the sixth, and capped his afternoon with a two-run blast down the right-field line to knock in Malson again with no outs in the top of the eighth to make the score 14-4.
While the Goshen offense racked up 14 runs and 18 hits, their third-highest outputs of the season in both categories, Carr would not get a chance to bat again: he was on deck when Cody McCoy ended the ninth inning with a warning-track fly ball.
Braedon Evans fired 7 1/3 innings of 11-hit baseball for the win: the length of his outing pulled the freshman into a tie for the 10th-most innings worked by a Maple Leaf in a season at 75 1/3. Evans struck out four batters without a walk on 111 pitches, only 30 of which missed the strike zone. Travis Grimm retired five of the seven batters he faced to close out the game.
Vincent Caschera, Ryan Hartig and Quinlan Armstrong added three consecutive singles to knock in a second run in the first inning before Malson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to extend the score to 3-0.
After Carr’s second solo shot in the fourth, the Maple Leafs (26-29-1) loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Ryan Hartig took a 3-2 pitch off the wrist to drive in a run before Knight third baseman Cody Earl turned an unassisted double play to end the inning.
While GC left two runners on in the fourth, it would double its advantage with five more scores an inning later. Triplett and Malson reached base to start the frame and moved up on a McCoy sacrifice bunt. Carr’s sac fly scored one run before Brad Stoltzfus hit a ball back through the box to extend the lead to a touchdown. Clinton Stroble II was hit by a pitch—the fourth hit batter of the afternoon—before Caschera pulled a three-run jack down the right-field line to open up a 10-0 margin.
Marian (26-20) got two runs back in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back hits from Henry Fisher and John O’Malley following a Matt Turk leadoff single. Carr’s two-out hit put GC up 11-2 after 5½ innings before outfielder Zack St. Pierre knocked in two runs with a single up the middle to close the gap to 11-4. That was as close as head coach Todd Bacon’s team would come.
McCoy worked the count full before singling with one out in the eighth, paving the way for Carr to extend the lead to 13-4 two pitches later. The Maple Leafs followed that with a Stoltzfus single and a Stroble two-bagger into the right-field gap, one that set the final score of 14-4 and set a new program record with 101 doubles in the season.
Carr led Goshen with five hits, followed by three from Stoltzfus and two apiece by Caschera and Hartig. Carr and Stoltzfus each scored a team-high three runs, the same number Caschera drove in.
St. Pierre added a team-high three hits for Marian, one more than Fisher and catcher Baylee Adams. Fisher’s double was the team’s lone extra-base knock and he was the lone Knight to breach the proverbial moat surrounding home plate on multiple occasions.
Sam Bell took the loss for Marian after allowing seven hits and five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Zeke Howie thre 4 2/3 frames and 108 pitches in relief, picking up the remaining 11 hits and nine runs.
The Maple Leafs’ 26th win of the year moves the 2017 squad past the 1991 club and into second place on that list, trailing only the district-champion 1995 squad on which Bacon served as an assistant to DeVon Hoffman. The consecutive wins to start the conference tournament give GC its second-ever berth in the winners’ bracket final, a feat previously accomplished by the 1995 team in the inaugural postseason event staged by the league. Goshen also won four straight games in 1994 to claim the final NAIA District 21 tournament.
With 14 runs Monday afternoon, Goshen set a new single-season record with 304 crossings of the plate, eclipsing the mark set in 2004. The team’s 14 RBIs give them 285 for the year, also passing the 2004 club.
At an individual level, Carr’s three runs scored move him within two of the program’s career mark held by 2004 graduate Josh Keister. Carr and Stroble jointly hold the team lead with 49 runs driven in this year, one short of Keister’s best single-season mark. Stroble’s 17th double of the year brings him within one of Ian Swartz’s all-time best from 2008.
The Maple Leafs have already seen multiple players eclipse the old single-season records in hits (Stroble, Carr and Caschera) and runs scored (Stoltzfus and Carr).
Goshen’s victory moves the team into the winners’ bracket final against Huntington University, a contest set for noon Tuesday at Taylor. The host Trojans are playing Marian on Monday night for a berth in Tuesday’s second game, the penultimate contest in the losers’ bracket, against Bethel or Mount Vernon Nazarene.
The losers’ bracket game is set for 3 p.m. Tuesday with the noon loser meeting the 3:00 winner at 6:00 in another elimination game. The conference tournament championship is set for Wednesday.