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Clemens’ Walk-Off Double Earns Maple Leafs’ First-Ever Series Win From MVNU

 

GOSHEN, Ind. — A Vincent Caschera home run tied the game in the seventh and Connor Clemens’ one-out double through a drawn-in outfield drove in the game-winning run in the eighth Saturday as Goshen College edged Mount Vernon Nazarene 5-4 in a scheduled seven-inning baseball contest to claim its second consecutive win over the Cougars at J. Harold “Sarge” Yoder Field. Mount Vernon Nazarene won the final game of the weekend series 6-1.

The Maple Leafs (19-17-1, 8-7 Crossroads League) waited until extra innings to post their first extra-base hit of the day. With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Spenser Triplett reached scoring position on a double that dropped in center field; Clemens batted for shortstop Cody McCoy and laced another double between the center and right fielders.

Mount Vernon Nazarene (22-16, 7-7) had opened the scoring with a Jesse Staudt double in the first inning, only to give up that advantage in the bottom of the frame on four Goshen singles. After Preston Carr and Brad Stoltzfus opened the inning with hits and Vincent Caschera struck out, Clinton Stroble laced a liner to left and score Carr before Ryan Hartig did the same to right to bring in Stoltzfus.

A two-out single from Aaron Saal followed by a double from Yanni Patten brought in the tying run for MVNU in the third inning.

Neither starter went the distance and both allowed two runs: Goshen’s Braedon Evans threw 88 pitches in six innings, while MVNU’s Trenton Wood was lifted after 71 tosses in 3 1/3 frames.

But neither team could score in the next three innings, so the game entered the seventh and final inning tied 2-2. Cougar leadoff man Nick Moser was hit by a pitch; two batters later, the bases were loaded after a bunt hit by Jaime Montero and a free pass to Saal. A Patten sacrifice fly broke the deadlock with a Staudt single scoring the insurance run before Seth Lapp replaced Travis Grimm on the mound to end the inning with two flyouts.

Luck was with the Maple Leafs in their half of the inning, despite the 4-2 deficit. Stoltzfus led off with a ground ball to short, but the throw pulled first-sacker Patten off the bag. After initially calling an out, the umpires convened and decided that Patten never had control of ball and base simultaneously. That brought Caschera to the plate as the tying run, and he delivered on a 1-0 pitch that barely cleared the yellow safety tubing atop the right-field fence.

Stroble and Hartig each flied out to the warning track as potential winning runs in the seventh.

Stoltzfus and Triplett each posted a game-high two hits, joining Montero, Saal, Patten and Staudt in that endeavor. Caschera, Patten and Staudt drove in two runs each for their clubs while Stoltzfus and Montero scored twice.

Colby Malson earned his third win of the season in relief after striking out all three men he faced in the eighth. Payton Booth took the loss after allowing four hits in four innings of relief.

The series win marked the first in program history for the Maple Leafs against the Cougars: Mount Vernon Nazarene had won 18 of the previous 19 meetings before this week in a head-to-head matchup that first occurred in 1995. Goshen also matched last year’s team with 19 wins, the seventh-most in school history, reaching that milestone nine games faster than the 2016 squad did.

Posting a series sweep, however, would be a different story. Goshen broke through first in game two as Clemens scored on a double-play ground ball off Stoltzfus’ bat in the third inning. The first game’s walk-off winner got the start at third base in game two and tied for the team lead with two hits, joining Carr atop that pedestal.

But Mount Vernon Nazarene countered with three runs in the fourth, capped by a two-run homer into the left-field parking lot off the bat of Staudt, and added two more in the fifth on three hits and a throwing error.

Goshen used four pitchers in the second game. While starter Blake Collins earned a save of sorts for the series when he parked his truck on the field to hold the tarp in place during gusty wins Thursday, his pitching line was less successful after surrendering six hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. Triplett, Colton Daniel and Kyle Kotecki each saw bullpen action as well.

The Cougars’ final run came on a one-out fielder’s choice in the seventh inning, with the run being charged to Triplett after a leadoff double.

Bryce Arledge went the distance on the mound for MVNU as conference rules shortened the second game of the series to seven innings once the opener surpassed its scheduled distance. Arledge allowed one run on six hits, five of which were singles and only two of which came after the fourth inning, while striking out five.

Montero and Staudt each drove in a pair of Cougars. Christian Bacon scored twice while Montero also added two hits.

McCoy and Caschera finished with single hits for Goshen, although Stoltzfus may have provided the game’s most memorable moments: he hit a first-inning foul ball that lodged in the screen behind home plate some 12 feet off the ground, then careened over the fence into the MVNU dugout chasing a foul pop-up while playing first base an inning later.

Goshen, which played all three games of a conference series at the place and time slated on the original schedule for the first time in five tries this season, hosts Taylor on Tuesday in a doubleheader. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.