On a day when the margin between win and lose were razor thin, Evansville captured a split of its doubleheader with league-leading Dallas Baptist on Saturday afternoon at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.
Two contests that were diametrically opposed to one another saw the Aces capture a 4-3 win in the day's first game before dropping the second game to the Patriots, 6-5.
"It was a very competitive day with great Missouri Valley Conference baseball. I'm very proud of our club to get a come-from-behind win and score that many runs and to walk-off that first game," said Evansville head baseball coach Wes Carroll. "Second game, we just put ourselves in a position to win and that's all you can ask for. Tomorrow is an important day at the yard for us. It's going to have that Missouri Valley Conference Tournament feel to it. Deep in a weekend, we're going to have to have guys out of our bullpen step-up and have our offense really try to spark some big innings."
Game One: Evansville 4, DBU 3
It was the Patriots who jumped to the lead early in Saturday's opener, generating a three-run second inning. A lead-off double set DBU up in position to score and it did just that, with a RBI single from Andres Sosa to give the Patriots their first run of the inning. With two outs in the inning and Sosa on first, Blayne Jones added to DBU's lead with a two-run home run to left, pushing its lead to 3-0.
After the second, Evansville starter Caleb Reinhardt settled in, pitching back-to-back clean innings in the third and fourth. In the fifth, Reinhardt continued to roll, facing just one above the minimum, getting out of the inning unscathed.
Matching Reinhardt was DBU's starter Rhett Kouba, the reigning MVC Pitcher of the Week, who allowed just four hits through six innings.
In the sixth, redshirt freshman Shane Harris entered to replace Reinhardt and pitched spectacularly. Harris induced three-straight fly-outs in the sixth and came back in the seventh, giving-up a double with two outs, but got a groundout to end the inning and set the Aces up with a chance.
In their last opportunity, Evansville got started off as it would like with a base-hit from Simon Scherry. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases for the Aces and ended the day for Kouba with Kragen Kechely coming on in relief. Brent Widder pushed the first run of the game across for Evansville after being hit by a pitch. Danny Borgstrom followed as a pinch hitter for Ben Komonosky and was walked to make it a one run game at 3-2 with no outs and the bases still loaded.
Kenton Crews lifted a sacrifice fly to left that was deep enough to score Evan Kahre and tie the game at three. After Beilsmith drew the second hit-by-pitch of the inning, the bases again were loaded with Mark Shallenberger coming to the plate. The freshman chopped a ground ball to second that was bobbled, allowing Widder to score and earn a 4-3 walk-off win for Evansville.
Game Two: DBU 6, Evansville 5
Dallas Baptist again took to the scoreboard first with a lead-off RBI single in top of the first.
Evansville answered in the bottom of the second, scoring twice on a pair of RBI base-hits by Wilkes and Crews to move the Aces in front, 2-1. In the fourth, the Aces added one to their tally with another RBI single, this one courtesy of Max Malley that scored Widder.
The key moments of the second contest came in the top of the fifth. Evansville struggled to record strikes, allowing five free bases as the Patriots scored six runs, taking a 6-3 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Evansville looked to be in a good position to chip away at DBU's advantage. The Aces put runners on first and second with just one out with Shallenberger coming to the plate. During the at-bat, Beilsmith was picked-off at first, putting a second out on the board. On the next pitch, Shallenberger launched a two-run homer to right center, putting the Aces within a run at 6-5.
With one last chance to solidify its comeback, the Aces put a runner on with two outs, but could draw no closer as the Patriots held on for a 6-5 win, earning a split on the day.
Evansville was led on the day by Scherry, who went four-for-seven at the plate, while both Crews and Shallenberger each recorded two RBI. For the Patriots, Jones led the offense on the day with a team-high three RBI.
The two sides will decided the series on Sunday with a single game at Noon at German American Bak Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.