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Foresters split doubleheader at Taylor

PITCH: Junior pitcher Alex McCutcheon tossed a complete-game shutout for the Foresters during Huntington’s 2–0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against Taylor on Monday.

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington University baseball team returned to Upland, Indiana, on Monday to wrap up their first Crossroads League series of the 2019 campaign, a three-game series against No. 22 Taylor.

After winning Friday’s series opener 7–6, the Foresters earned the series win by splitting Monday’s doubleheader with the Trojans following a 2–0 victory and a 5–1 loss. The series pushed Huntington’s season record to 6–6, including a 2–1 record to start their Crossroads League schedule.

In game one, the Forester offense came out swinging, tallying a trio of hits in the top of the first inning. Sophomore third baseman Daniel Lichty started the offense with a single up the middle, while senior designated hitter Adam Roser then advanced Lichty to third base with a single of his own, though Roser was then thrown out trying to turn his hit into a double.

Junior first baseman Austin Pritchard then singled up the middle to score Lichty and give Huntington an early 1–0 lead.

Junior pitcher Alex McCutcheon toed the rubber for the Foresters and settled in early. The Huntington native gave up just one hit in the first three innings while striking out three Trojans.

Taylor threatened in the fourth inning after back-to-back singles to start the bottom half of the frame, but McCutcheon wiggled his way out of the danger thanks to three consecutive outs.

The Trojans again had a chance to get on the board in the fifth inning with a runner eventually on third, but McCutcheon recorded his sixth strike out of the day to end the inning and leave Taylor scoreless.

Huntington would double their lead in the top of the sixth inning, as freshman shortstop Stachell Wilson’s fielder’s choice brought in freshman left fielder Collin Landrum to give the Foresters a 2–0 advantage.

Taylor failed to generate any runs over the last two innings of the game, as McCutcheon and the Forester defense shut down the Trojans to earn a 2–0 win.

McCutcheon went the distance in the victory, allowing five hits in seven innings of work while fanning eight Taylor batters.

“If he’s in the strike zone, he’s really difficult to deal with,” said head coach Mike Frame. “When he gets out of the strike zone and puts men on base, he opens himself up to give up some runs. But, if he’s in the strike zone, he’s just really, really good. He’s been that way all year.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Trojans quickly pounced on junior pitcher Mason Shinabery and the Foresters, as Taylor’s Ben Kalbaugh sent a pitch over the fence to give the Trojans a 2–0 lead in the bottom of the second.

Taylor again threatened in the bottom of the fourth inning, eventually finding themselves with the bases loaded. Nick Rusche crushed a deep fly that seemed as though it would drop to extend the Trojans’ lead, but senior center fielder Donovan Clark made an outstanding diving catch to end the threat and close out the inning with Taylor still leading 2–0.

The Foresters immediately responded in the top of the fifth, when freshman outfielder Ryan Hale got Huntington on the board following a Landrum sacrifice ground out, cutting Taylor’s lead to 2–1.

However, the Trojans answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to re-establish a two-run lead at 3–1 before tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to open up a comfortable 5–1 lead.

Taylor limited the Foresters to three hits the rest of the way, with Huntington unable to cut into their deficit, resulting in a 5–1 win for the Trojans.

Shinabery finished his day with nine hits and four earned runs given up while striking out four in five and a third innings of work.

Freshman pitcher Joey Butz completed the game for Huntington, pitching two and two thirds of hitless baseball.

The split gave the Foresters their first conference series win of the season, a noteworthy accomplishment given the opponent.

“We set a goal (for) each one of these nine (conference) series that we play to win the series,” Frame said. “We did that. We certainly weren’t at our best the third game (of the series), but Taylor’s a good team, and to think that you’re going to come in here and sweep them in three games, that’s not gonna happen. … We (won) two out of three. We’ll take that. (If) you win two out of three against everybody, you (will) win the league.”

The Foresters will return to the field on Friday when they open their home schedule against Spring Arbor. First pitch is slated for 4:30 p.m.