Low-Scoring Affairs Leave Leafs With Sour Taste Despite Opportunities At MVNU

Ingle sets down 15 of last 17 but offense strands 10 in nightcap shutout loss

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — A pair of pitchers’ duels left the Goshen College baseball team on the wrong side of the ledger Wednesday afternoon as Mount Vernon Nazarene University outlasted the Maple Leafs, winning 4-3 in 11 innings and 3-0 in seven innings to sweep a Crossroads League doubleheader.

Clinton Stroble II reached base three times by three different methods in the opener, including a seventh-inning fly ball to center field that scored two runs to tie the game in the seventh inning. Ben Longacre, Colby Malson and Kody McGuire each added a hit and a walk apiece for the Maple Leafs (10-16, 2-6).

Mount Vernon Nazarene (15-11, 4-4) used a two-run double from Devin Pearl to take the game’s first lead with one out in the first but managed just five more hits throughout the remaining 8 2/3 innings of regulation. Three of those five were doubles, with Nick Moser posting two and Jesse Staudt one: one of the Moser two-baggers led to the Cougars’ insurance run in the fifth.

The Maple Leafs had halved the lead an inning earlier after Longacre’s leadoff double. After a Stroble flyout moved the center fielder to third, Cody McCoy singled to the left side to pull within 2-1.

GC would leave runners on base in each of the next two innings before squaring matters in the seventh. McGuire led off with a single, the inning’s only hit, before a strikeout and a fielder’s choice left pinch-runner Chase Hunter on first with two away. Brad Stoltzfus was hit by a pitch to bring Longacre up as the go-ahead run: after a pitching change, Longacre walked to load the bases.

Stroble lofted a fly ball to center, reaching base on an error: with two outs, the runners were moving on the pitch and two men scored, but the batter could not be credited with a sacrifice fly. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, a second strikeout ended the inning, and after the Cougars did not score, bonus baseball ensued.

Each team left a runner on base their next two times up: the Cougars stranded one at first and another at second, while GC left Malson on third in the eighth. The Maple Leafs nearly pulled in front in the ninth: Stoltzfus singled with one out, which Stroble followed with a double two batters later, but the relay throw from third base cut down Stoltzfus at the plate.

Both sides put a runner on before making an out on the basepaths in the 10th. The Cougars would assemble four hits in the 11th to claim victory, getting a Moser bunt hit and a Clark single of the infield variety to load the bases before Pearl knocked in the game-winning run.

Kyle Staelgraeve started for GC and worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on 74 pitches. Colton Daniel worked 2 2/3 innings of shutout baseball before yielding to Braedon Evans in the eighth.

Mark Rader allowed three hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings for MVNU before Gustavo Fuentes got the win in relief. Moser paced the Cougars with three hits, including two doubles, and two walks to go with two runs. Staudt, Pearl and James Glover each hit safely twice with Pearl driving in three runs.

All the scoring happened in the first inning in the second game, which was shortened to seven innings by conference rule when the first game went to extra innings. The Cougars picked up four singles, a sacrifice bunt and a ground ball to the right side to take a 3-0 lead after six batters.

From that point on, the ball was in the court of the pitchers, Goshen’s Chandler Ingle and Mount Vernon Nazarene’s Payton Booth. Each team would post three hits the rest of the way. Only one, a Stoltzfus leadoff double in the fifth, went for extra bases.

The Cougars started the second inning with a single and a walk before Ingle retired the next nine batters and 14 of the next 15. A groundout in the second marked the last time MVNU got a runner to third base.

Goshen brought the tying run to the plate in three straight innings and four of the last five: the third frame included a Longacre single and a Stroble walk, the fourth saw Malson get hit and McCoy single, and the fifth opened with Stoltzfus’ double and a Stroble free pass. All six runners were stranded at the end of the inning, although two of the frames saw the lead runner advance to third.

GC’s last chance came without a hit in the top of the seventh, when the team alternated baserunners and strikeouts: Stoltzfus walked with one away and Stroble reached on a throwing error two batters later. That left Ryan Hartig at the plate as the tying run, but Cougar reliever Landon Riley retired the second of the three batters he faced to shut the door.

Booth took the win after striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings: he also issued four walks, contributing to his 118-pitch count. Ingle finished with seven hits, three runs and two strikeouts on 78 deliveries in six innings.

No Maple Leaf recorded multiple hits in the nightcap, although Stoltzfus and Longacre both reached base twice. Moser, who singled twice, was the lone Cougar to reach base twice.

Goshen returns home to host Grace in a three-game series over the weekend. The set at J. Harold “Sarge” Yoder Field begins with a single nine-inning game at 3 p.m. Friday before the teams play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday.