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Foresters earn pair of wins, advance to title game

Article provided by Huntington University

Great teams find a way to win. And that’s just what the 3rd-seeded HU baseball team did Monday at the Crossroads League Tournament, winning twice, to land a spot in the championship game.

After beating 2nd-seeded Taylor 2-1 in the morning in an elimination game, HU did battle with 5th-seeded and undefeated Marian in the afternoon with senior Jamar Weaver willing his team to the 9-8 win.

Grit. Determination. Gutsy pitching. Clutch hitting. All themes for coach Mike Frame’s crew with Weaver’s play in the final two innings the perfect example. While one could argue his two-run dinger in the top of ninth was his greatest feat of the afternoon, what he did on the mound was just as, if not, more impressive.

The starting second baseman, who came into the day having spent just 13.2 innings on the hill, was given a tough assignment when called on in the bottom of the eighth with his team in shambles. The Foresters scored once in the top of the frame to enjoy a comfortable 7-3 advantage before the wheels fell off.

The Knights pieced together five hits and took advantage of two HU errors to knot things up at 7-7 with two outs and the go-ahead run in scoring position. In came Weaver and with one pitch, coaxed Zack St. Pierre to fly out to get his team out of the dreadful inning.

Emotions were tense but Weaver again came to the rescue, this time by way of his first collegiate homer in the top of the ninth to reclaim his team’s lead at 9-7. Of course Marian wasn’t about to lay down and die and the Foresters played tight as evidenced by two more errors. The result was another Knight run for a 9-8 game with just one out.

But Frame’s crew proved resilient as Tyler Zimske tracked down a pop up in foul territory for out number two and then only fitting, Weaver struck out Tyler Vogel, who had already logged three hits, for the final out. In his 1.1 innings on the bump, Weaver gave up an unearned run and a walk while striking out one for the win.

Weaver wasn’t the only Forester to offer heroics on the mound. After closing out the Taylor game, Alex McCutcheon tossed the first 5.2 innings before being relieved by Colton Punches who had just pitched a nine-inning complete-game shutout yesterday.

Offensively, it was a team effort as a handful of Foresters came through with timely hits. Weaver drove in HU’s first run with an RBI-double to finish with two hits and three RBI. Zimske posted a run-scoring base knock and a sac fly for a second RBI.

Kyle Selvey and Donovan Clark each drove in a run and claimed two hits. Daniel Lichty, playing for the first time in several weeks, hammered out an RBI-single and scored twice as a welcomed addition back in the line-up.

The morning contest against Taylor was just as intense - just not as much scoring.

Credit Connor West for keeping the Trojans in check. He spent the first 7.2 innings on the hill to give up five hits, an unearned run and seven walks while striking out five. It was mind over matter for the junior hurler as he had just thrown seven innings on Friday in HU’s 12-1 win over Goshen.

McCutcheon offered 1.1 of scoreless, hitless relief to pick up the win for his team.

The game didn’t come without controversy. After five scoreless frames, Hunter Losekamp unleashed a three-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth for what seemed a 3-0 lead. However, the home plate ump declared that Weaver, the first to come around to score, didn’t touch home plate and as such was charged with HU’s third out negating the homer.

A stunned Huntington crew didn’t stay stunned for long but rather went right back to work. Nick Davit ripped a double down the right-field line in the bottom of the seventh and eventually slid into home on a Trojan error for a 1-0 HU lead.

Taylor answered by stringing together a few hits and then reaped the benefit of a Huntington bobble to tie things up at 1-1 in the eighth. It was TU’s first run in over 16 innings.

Once again, the Foresters rose to the challenge instead of hanging their heads. This time it was Adrian Perez who came up with the big play - a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to end things.

The loss knocked TU out of the tourney.

For Coach Frame, a 34-year veteran, this day was one for the books.

“This was one of the most unforgettable days I have ever experienced on the baseball field. I don’t really have words to express how I free about these kids.”

The Foresters improve to 23-23 on the year. They battled Marian on Wednesday for a chance to repeat as the Crossroad League Tournament Champs and punch their ticket to the NAIA National Tournament. Results from the game, however, were unavailable as of Herald Press deadline.