Published in the March 8, 2017 issue of The Bells
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team faced off against the No. 7 Trinity University Tigers on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Red Murff Field in Belton. The Tigers are the reigning NCAA Division III National Champions and came into the game 6-5 on the season.
The Crusaders started the game 1-5 on the year, but were able to overcome a shaky start to win 9-7. Trinity was able to put up five runs in the top of the first inning on the strength of five hits and a Cru error. But senior starting pitcher/designated hitter Ty Johnson was able to work through the inning and continue pitching for two more innings, allowing just one more unearned run in the top of the third.
“I think they refocused really well,” said head coach Ben Shipp. “We’re a very young team, so I was really proud of the way they refocused tonight after getting down 5-0.”
The Cru answered with a run in the bottom of the first inning. In the fourth, with runners on first and second, sophomore shortstop Robbie Gillen stepped up and lined a ball down the right field line for a two-run triple. Gillen was then able to score on a balk by Trinity pitcher Holden Nix, shrinking the Tigers’ lead to 6-4.
“I’m trying to just drive the ball the opposite way, shorten up and get the ball in play. I got a fastball off the plate and just drove it down the line,” Gillen said.
After one run in the top of the sixth for the Tigers, the Cru were able to return fire in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore second baseman Jackson Godoy led off the inning with a single and then stole second. Gillen then came back to the plate with one out and laid down a bunt.
The Tigers’ pitcher picked up the bunt and fired a high throw over the head of the first baseman and into right field. Godoy scored on the error and Gillen moved up to second with a single and an E1. Gillen then scored three batters later on a single by freshman first baseman Landon Dieterich, cutting the deficit to 7-6.
Then in the bottom of the seventh, an error on the Trinity second baseman allowed sophomore third baseman Mitch Patterson to reach and Johnson drew a walk. Godoy came to the plate with two on and laced a double over the center fielder’s head.
Patterson scored easily from second to tie the game. But a perfect relay from the second baseman cut Johnson down at the plate attempting to score the go-ahead run.
The next batter, junior left fielder Caleb Davis, then drove a ball into the gap in left-center for an RBI triple to put the Cru ahead 8-7. The Cru put up an insurance run in the eighth and carried a 9-7 lead into the ninth inning.
Tasked with protecting that lead was senior pitcher Aaron Barteau. After allowing the first batter to reach on a single through the left side, Barteau then struck out the next three batters to nail down the Cru win and earn his second save of the season and 10th of his career.
“I feel pretty good,” Barteau said. “I blew a save against them whenever I was closing before, so I was definitely coming in trying to strike out every single one of them.”
Gillen finished with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Godoy also had two hits with one RBI. Senior pitcher Seth Hill earned the win and is now 1-0 on the season.
The Cru moves to 2-5 on the year with the win and Trinity drops to 6-6. This come-from-behind win is just what the Cru needed going into their conference season.