Quality Pitching and Timely Hitting Lead Bears to Sweep

Photos by Scott Margolin
Photos by Scott Margolin

St. Louis, Mo., March 26, 2017 – The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team collected a pair of victories during Sunday's doubleheader against Illinois Wesleyan University, clobbering its way to a 14-1 win in game one before pulling out a thrilling 5-2 decision of the second game Sunday afternoon at Kelly Field. 

WashU totaled 25 hits on the day while scoring 19 runs during the doubleheader sweep of the Titans, improving the Bears record to 12-5 on the year while dropping Illinois Wesleyan to 7-6. The Bears showed their ability to win in a variety of capacities but pitching and defense remained at the core of the victories as WashU allowed just three runs in 16 innings.

Game 1: WashU 14 – Illinois Wesleyan 1 

Senior Brad Margolin received the game one start and threw seven quality innings for a complete game, allowing five hits, one earned run while striking out six without issuing a walk. The Titans struck first with a run scoring single off the bat of John Bosco in the second inning, but Margolin was able to pickoff his second runner of the game to escape a jam and keep the score 1-0.

WashU answered with a single run in the bottom half of the second as freshman John Brinkman scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Ted Daley. Brinkman led the inning off with a single before advancing to third on a hit-and-run single through the right side by junior Conor O'Hara

The Bears offense blew things up in the third inning by nearly batting twice through the lineup in route to scoring 10 runs. Senior Christian Santos drove in the winning run with an infield single that plated sophomore Auggie Mense. Two batters later O'Hara doubled into left field scoring senior Ben Browdy and Santos.

Brinkman scored on a passed ball before senior Austin Darmawan knocked in another run singled in O'Hara to push the Bears ahead by five. Mense worked a run scoring walk in his second plate appearance of the inning. Santos knocked in two more runs with a single before Brinkman's double to left center knocked in the final two runs of the inning for WashU. The Bears led 11-1 after the third inning concluded. 

Margolin cruised through the final four innings with the double digit lead without allowing a hit in the final four frames of action and striking out four. The Bears added three more runs in the fourth inning with a run scoring walk by Darmawan and an infield single by Brinkman.

Brinkman finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs batted in while Darmawan, Browdy, Santos and O'Hara all tallied two hits apiece. Browdy extended his school record hitting streak to 35 games, dating back to last season when he ended the year with a 19-game streak. 

Margolin improved to 4-0 on the season with his first complete game of the season after throwing four complete games in 2016.

Game 2: WashU 5 – Illinois Wesleyan 2 

The Bears once again relied on solid pitching but required timely hitting in game two to emerge victorious. The Titans scored two unearned runs off of starting pitcher Scott Nelson before the end of the third inning. The Bears sophomore John Howard entered from from the bullpen in the third inning after the Titans took a 2-0 lead.

Howard got the first batter he faced to ground out before picking off the inherited runner to end the inning. Darmawan made a tremendous diving stop up the middle ranging to his left before gathering his footing and firing a strike to Daley for the second out. The final out of the inning came when Howard fired back to Browdy and caught the Titans runner in a pickle as Brinkman applied the tag out.

The Bears trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning before Mense began the inning with a single and Browdy ripped the ball into deep centerfield for a run scoring triple. Browdy's triple extended his hitting streak to 36 straight games, which ties him for the 15th best mark in Division III history. Santos delivered a run-scoring single to even the game at 2-all when he drove the ball to right field.

WashU and Illinois Wesleyan remained knotted at two runs apiece but after Howard controlled the Titans offense for five innings their leadoff man Nick Figus tripled with one out. Senior Jake Mintz entered the game in the top of the eighth inning with one out and a runner on third base.

Mintz retired the first batter on a weakly hit grounder to the drawn in Daley at first base. Daley kept his head up on the play looking Figus back to third base while applying the tag to John Bosco. The Titans three-hole hitter, Gino Cavalieri, followed with a ground ball to Darmawan to end the scoring threat. 

Mense led off the bottom of the eighth inning with another single to right field. After a popup, he advanced to second on a grounder by Santos that trickled less than a few feet from home plate. Brinkman delivered the clutch single up the middle through the legs of Illinois Wesleyan pitcher's 6-foot-6 frame that put the Bears ahead 3-2. WashU was not finished scoring as O'Hara doubled and to set up a two-run scoring single by Daley.

Mintz quickly worked a one-two-three ninth inning to close out the victory for the Bears. He improved his record to 2-0 on the season, while throwing 1.2-innings of hitless and runless baseball. Howard tossed five innings without allowing a run and striking out three.

Brinkman collected three hits during the second game while knocking in a run and scoring one. He reached base in all eight of his plate appearances, going 7-for-8 during the doubleheader. Mense scored multiple runs in both contests as he went 2-for-4 in game two. He has scored multiple runs in eight games this season.

The Bears will open up University Athletic Association (UAA) play next weekend as the No. 3-ranked Emory University Eagles head to St. Louis for a four-game series starting Friday at 3 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all the Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bears Notebook: WashU and Illinois Wesleyan have met 50 times previously in program history with the Titans leading the series 29-21. However, the Bears have won the series in back-to-back seasons.