SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A double-header sweep to open Heart Conference play for the Evangel baseball team saw a 6-5 walk-off win in game one and a 7-5 victory over William Penn in game two on Friday afternoon.
Evangel took an early 1-0 lead in the third inning when Patrick Gaul led off the inning with a walk and scored on a Noah Suiter RBI groundout. Suiter finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs in the first game.
William Penn would tie the game in the fourth before Evangel regained the lead in the fifth inning. However, the Statesmen would not only tie the game again in the sixth but take a 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning.
The Crusaders would load the bases on three consecutive walks before Suiter singled home two more runs to pull Evangel with a run. The next batter, Dalton Cook would single home Gaul to tie the game at 5-5 before Stephen Belcher hit a sacrifice fly providing the game-winning hit for the Crusaders.
Bret Hoffman scattered six hits in 6.1 innings as he was charged with four earned of the five runs scored by William Penn. The senior struck out five and walked two before Zach Johnston got the final two outs in the top of the seventh.
The nightcap which ended just ahead of darkness saw more late-game heroics for Evangel.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning before adding two more runs in the fourth when Jordan Yates drove home, Rafael Rodriguez and Gaul. Yates was 1 for 2 with a run scored and two RBIs and two walks.
Evangel saw its lead evaporate in the top of the sixth when William Penn tied the game with three runs on four hits. However, Sam Tiller left the bases loaded to get the final two outs to set up the bottom of the sixth for the Crusaders.
Grant Kosanke scored the tying run after reaching on a base hit and moving to second on a sacrifice bunt. Kosanke would move to third safely on a throwing error and score due to an obstruction call by the home plate umpire.
Two pitches later, Gaul would steal second and move to third as the throw went into the outfield. After a walk to Yates, Suiter would push Gaul home a sac fly giving the Crusaders a second insurance run.
Grant Miller added two RBIs going 2 for 3, while Gaul scored three times for Evangel.
Tiller earned the win out of the bullpen after going 1.2 innings with a strikeout and two hits. Levi Loughridge went 4.2 innings as he carried a no-hitter into the top of the fifth inning. Loughridge struck out six and walked just one after giving up a run in the top of the first inning.
Evangel continues its conference-opening weekend on Saturday against Grand View with a double-header. First pitch against the Vikings is scheduled for 12 p.m.
For the latest information on Evangel Athletics, follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EvangelAthletics or go to www.EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Go Evangel Front Row App at EvangelAthletics.com/FrontRow available on Google Play and in the App Store.