Pinarski Powers Walk-Off Winner in Second Round of CLT
UPLAND, Ind. – In the midst of an electric atmosphere, the No. 24 Taylor baseball team (38-16) defeated cross-county rival Indiana Wesleyan (31-22) in walk-off fashion, thanks to a line-drive home run smashed by Michael Pinarski in the bottom of the ninth to snag a 9-8 win over the Wildcats.
With the win, Taylor now moves into the third round of the Crossroads League Tournament still in the winner’s bracket, set to square off with Huntington Tuesday at 12:00 pm.
Pinarski’s ninth-inning magic put an end to what was a back-and-forth, high-intensity matchup between the Grant-County rivals.
Wesleyan drew first blood by posting a three-spot on the board in the top half of the third, which was built upon a trio of Wildcat doubles.
Taylor bounced back with one in the fourth, thanks to a one-out RBI-double off the left-field fence struck by catcher, Ben Kalbaugh.
IWU responded with a run of its own in the fifth, before Taylor punched right back with two more in the bottom half of the fifth. Recently named Player of the Week, Camden Knepp continued his hot start to the tournament, smacking a two-run single through the middle of the infield to make it a four-to-three game.
Wesleyan, then, gifted a the Trojans a near-knockout blow in the seventh frame, when league-leader in home runs, Evan Salmon, hit a two-out, two-strike, three-run bomb to over the fence in left. Upon the seventh-inning stretch at Winterholter Field, the Trojans found themselves trailing seven-to-three.
TU would not lay down, though, but would rather drive in three runs of its own with two outs in the bottom half of the seventh. Kade Vander Molen started the scoring with a line-drive knock over the extended arm of the Wildcat shortstop, bringing home Jacob Morris and Knepp to score. Then, senior shortstop, Nick Rusche, made it a one-run game with a two-out RBI-base knock of his own.
At this point in the game, after Noah Huseman threw six solid innings of 10-strikeout ball and Kaleb Kolpien completed an inning-and-two-thirds, Matt Dutkowski took the bump and silenced the IWU offense down the stretch.
Dutkowski (6-2) threw one-and-one-third innings of scoreless, hitless, baseball while allowing just one walk in comparison with two strikeouts. The sophomore picked up his sixth win of the season, thanks in large part to two ginormous swings-of-the-bat in the final two Trojan at-bats.
The first of which was struck by senior centerfielder, Conner Crawford, who tied the game at seven with a mammoth shot that just about tore up the track out beyond the left-field fence.
Pinarski, then, took the honor of ending the game in the bottom half of the ninth, sending a missile into the pine trees beyond center field, after which the Manchester-transfer was mobbed back at home plate.
No. 24 Taylor (38-16) will remain in the winner’s bracket, now slated to play the four-seed, Huntington (26-21), Tuesday afternoon, May 10th, at 12:00 pm ET.