|by Brent Harris • April 8, 2010|
Wabash sophomore John Holm ended most of the drama in Thursday’s baseball doubleheader at Saint Joseph’s College in his first at bat against the NCAA Division II scholarship team. Holm drilled a two-out, two-run homer in the first inning of game one, setting a new Wabash single-season record for RBI while tying the Little Giants’ single-season home run record. Wabash took game one 9-3 before splitting the twin bill with a 4-3 loss in game two.
The two-run shot in the first inning scored John Pennington, giving Holm his 40th RBI of the year, passing the old record of 39 set by Josh Stanton ‘03 in 2001 before adding his 41st RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Holm (below right) also tied the single-season home run mark of 11 set by Matt Wilhelm ‘01 in 2000.
“I have to give a lot of credit for the way I’m playing to the whole team,” Holm said. “Brian Lares, Pennington, and Tanner Coggins are doing a great job of getting on base in front of me. I’m just trying to do what the team needs based upon the situation. If there’s a guy on second, I’m trying to get him home. If there’s a guy on first, I’m trying to get him into scoring position for someone else to bring him home.
“I’m trying to be patient at the plate, just waiting for my pitch. I’ve been lucky. Fortunately pitchers have been giving me some good pitches to hit, and I’ve been able to drive them over the fence.
Head coach Cory Stevens agreed with Holm’s approach at the plate.
“John’s having a fantastic season,” Stevens said. “He’s had great pitch selection all season. It’s been tough for pitchers to fool him. He’s confident enough that he can go to two strikes and still wait for his pitch.”
The Little Giants used the hit-and-run play to perfection in the first inning, scoring an additional run on a single by David Seibel. The Pumas tied the game with a run in the first and two in the third before Wabash regained the lead on a Saint Joseph’s error and an RBI double by Lares. Coggins led off the fifth with a double, moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on Holm’s sac fly to put the Little Giants up 6-3. Two more runs scored in the sixth inning on RBI singles by Lares and Pennington. A solo homer by Chris Deig in the seventh added the final run of the game.
Pete Schmith picked up the win in relief of freshman Chris Widup. Schmith worked three innings of shutout baseball, scattering two hits while striking out three. Widup threw the first three innings of the game, allowing three runs on three hits with five walks and three strikeouts. Freshman Blake Mattingly closed out the game with a strikeout in an inning of work.
Lares, Pennington, Coggins, Deig, and Seibel each had two of the Little Giants’ 12-hit total.
The Wabash bats went silent in game two. The Little Giants took a 2-0 lead when Joe Johnson reached on a two-base error to open the third inning, scoring on a passed ball. Pennington collected one of his two hits later in the third, scoring on a Coggins double down the right field line.
The Pumas picked up two runs in the bottom of the inning, but Wabash broke the 2-2 tie on a sacrifice fly by Seibel after Montana Timmons opened the fourth inning with a single to left.
Saint Joseph’s rallied for two runs in the fifth. Wabash struggled to put a bat on the ball with eight of the final 12 batters retired by strikeouts. Pennington reached on a single to center in the fifth, while Timmons gave way to pinch-runner Nathan Schrader in sixth after being hit by a pitch. Schrader made it all the way to third with one out, but back-to-back K’s ended the Wabash effort to tie the game.
Lares reached on a walk in the seventh with two outs, but Pennington’s long fly ball to center was hauled in at the warning track to finish the game. Pennington had two of the Little Giants’ six hits in the game.
Logan Frederick took the loss in relief, throwing 1-2/3 innings. He gave up four hits and two earned runs with one walk. Brian Van Duyn threw two innings of shutout ball as the starter, allowing just one hit with two walks and two strikeouts. Eric Foust gave up two runs in two innings of relief with a walk and three hits. Jeff Soller struck out the only batter he faced in the sixth, entering the game in relief of Frederick with the bases loaded and two outs in the inning.
Wabash (12-14) returns to North Coast Athletic Conference play this weekend with a key four-game series in Richmond, Indiana against Earlham College. The Little Giants led the NCAC West with a 5-1 mark, a game ahead of Denison University (4-2) and Ohio Wesleyan (5-3). The Little Giants play two seven-inning games Saturday before closing out the series with a Sunday doubleheader. Holm and Stevens both know the Little Giants will have to continue to play well as a team to keep its conference momentum rolling.
“We have to play Wabash baseball this weekend,” Holm said. “Pitchers have to throw strikes early, we have to make plays defensively, and get ahead with good sacrifice bunts and two-out RBIs.”
“Earlham will test us,” Stevens added. “They’ve split a doubleheader against Denison and played the Big Red tough in the game they lost --- a one-run game. We have to get a solid performance from our four starters and hopefully continue to do the small things well offensively with bunting and running the bases, and then play defense behind our pitchers.”
Game one - Wabash 9, Saint Joseph's 3 (box score)
Game two - Saint Joseph's 4, Wabash 3 (box score)