St. Louis, Mo., April 11, 2015 – The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team had runners reach base in 16 of 18 innings, but the Bears left 25 base runners stranded as they dropped both games of a doubleheader against Grinnell College Saturday afternoon at Kelly Field. Grinnell held on for a 4-2 win in game one, before taking game two 7-2.
WashU dropped to 18-9 on the season with the two losses, while Grinnell improved to 8-11. The two teams finish their four-game weekend series with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday at Kelly Field.
GAME ONE – GRINNELL 4, WASHU 2
The Pioneers plated three two-out runs in the top of the first inning to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Senior Max Zhang issued a leadoff walk and a one-out single, he got a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners with two outs. Grinnell's next batter hit a slow roller to the left side of the pitcher's mound that bounced off Zhang's glove. Sophomore Austin Darmawan fielded the ball and threw to first, but the field umpire ruled that senior Zack Kessinger was pulled off the bag as he leaned to make the catch, allowing the batter to reach and the first run of the game to score. The Pioneers added two more unearned runs on a two-RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0.
WashU was limited to one hit through the first three innings before getting the offense going in the bottom of the fourth. Kessinger was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and senior Brian Cizek hit a bloop single to right field before junior Kyle Kozak lined a double over the left fielder to score Kessinger for WashU's first run of the game. Darmawan followed with a single through the right side of the infield to score Cizek and cut Grinnell's lead to 3-2. Sophomore Scott Nelson drew a walk to load the bases with no outs, but a fielder's choice and a double play ended the scoring threat for WashU.
The Bears got back-to-back two-out singles by Darmawan and Nelson to put runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth, but Grinnell's second baseman made a great catch on a line drive hit by senior Andrew Goldstick to end the inning. WashU again got two runners on with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but was kept off the scoreboard again. Still trailing 3-2, the Bears loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth after a two-out single by sophomore Ben Browdy on the first pitch he saw and a walk by junior Max Golembo, but a fly out to left stranded the three base runners.
Grinnell turned a leadoff single into a run on a one-out double down the left-field line to extend the lead to 4-2 in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, Kessinger reached on a one-out walk, but back-to-back fly outs ended the game and sealed the win for Grinnell.
WashU outhit the Pioneers 8-7, but the Bears left 13 runners on base in the game, including eight over the final four innings. After giving up three unearned runs in the first inning, Zhang (2-2) threw seven scoreless innings, including retiring nine straight batters from the third through sixth innings. He took the loss after scattering six hits and three walks, while striking out one. Sophomore Bill Heisler pitched the ninth inning for the Bears, allowing one run on two hits before getting a strikeout and pop up to end the inning. Darmawan was the lone bright spot for the Bears offensively, finishing 3-for-4 with an RBI.
GAME TWO – GRINNELL 7, WASHU 2
Grinnell again got on the scoreboard first, scoring an unearned run in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead. The Bears answered in the bottom of the inning when Goldstick and Darmawan drew back-to-back two-out walks, and sophomore CJ Price singled to shallow left-center field. Goldstick came around to score, but Darmawan was tagged out in a rundown between second and third to end the inning with the score tied 1-1.
The Pioneers broke the tie in the top of the sixth inning. After a leadoff double, Grinnell got an RBI single to score the go-ahead run. A two-out walk and another single extended the Pioneers' lead to 3-1, before Kozak picked off a runner at second to end the inning. WashU put together another two-out rally in the bottom of the inning, with back-to-back singles by Cizek and Goldstick, but the Bears left the bases loaded for the second time in the game as a fielder's choice to shortstop kept them off the scoreboard. Grinnell broke the game open in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits to extend the lead to 6-1, before making it 7-1 with a run in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, Darmawan fell behind 0-2 in the count before coaxing a leadoff walk and Price followed with a double to left-center field. Senior Chris Lowery hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Darmawan and cut Grinnell's lead to 7-2, before a groundout to first and a pop up to the shortstop ended the game.
Grinnell finished with 13 hits in the game, compared with nine for WashU. The Bears had runners reach base in eight of the nine innings, but left 12 stranded and hit into two double plays in the game. Junior Julian Clarke (2-2) took the loss after allowing five runs, including one unearned, on nine hits and two walks in six innings of work. He also recorded four strikeouts to bring his season total to a team-high 33. Sophomore Jake Mintz allowed one run on two hits in an inning of relief, before junior Spencer Neal pitched the final two innings, giving up on run on two hits and recording one strikeout. Offensively, Price went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI to lead the Bears, while Lowery and Goldstick each finished 2-for-3.
Bear Notebook: The Bears had not dropped back-to-back games this season heading into Saturday's doubleheader … WashU has hit into 38 double plays this season … Zhang made his 46th career pitching appearance with his start in game one, tying him for sixth with Steve Vetter (1983-86) and John Kirwan (1979-82) on WashU's career pitching appearances list … Lowery tied Mark Glover (1999-02) for sixth on WashU's career RBIs list with 127 … Kessinger made his 150th career start at first base in game one … Golembo returned to the starting lineup for game one after missing the last 17 games with an injury … Kessinger has reached base safely in all 27 games this season and has a 32-game reached base streak dating to April 30, 2014.