The Denison baseball team won its North Coast Athletic Conference West Division Series with rival Ohio Wesleyan following a doubleheader sweep on Sunday afternoon in Granville. The Big Red won the opener 5-1 and routed the Bishops 12-4 in the second contest.
Ohio Wesleyan grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning of game one when Steven Moore hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Tyler Flaherty, who led off the inning with a triple off the top of the left field wall.
The Bishops held the one-run lead until the bottom of the fourth inning when sophomore Duncan Moran left the park for the first time in his collegiate career. Moran sent a 3-1 pitch by J.J. Buckey over the 380 sign in right center. That lead-off homer was just the tip of the iceberg as the Big Red erupted for four runs in the frame to take the lead.
With runners at first and second, freshman Alex Enrique roped a double to left field that scored senior Andrew Touhy. After a walk to Brandon Morgan loaded the bases, Georgie Montes crossed the dish on a passed ball by Buckey. Another free pass issued to Conner Madey loaded the bases once again with one out. Junior Charlie Apfelbach drove in the fourth run of the inning on a sacrifice to center.
Denison added another insurance run in the fifth when Enrique lined a base hit up the middle to score pinch runner Tucker Davison from third. The four-run cushion proved to be plenty for DU starter Kyle Colgain, who tossed a gem over the course of seven innings. Colgain threw 95 pitches, scattered six hits, allowed just one run and fanned six en route to his third win of the season.
Touhy, Montes and Enrique all had two hits, while Enrique also drove in a pair and scored once. Touhy and Montes both went 2-for-2 at the dish and scored one run each.
In game two, the Big Red fell behind early once again after giving up solo runs in the first and fourth frames. However, the DU hitters had OWU starter Charles Cooper figured out the second time through the line-up. Apfelbach led off the fourth inning with a double down the left line. Ryan Mulligan followed with an RBI-single through the right side. Montes belted a one-out triple to left center, easily scoring Mulligan from second and tying the game at 2-2. With two outs and the go-ahead run 90 feet away, junior Ryan Loehnert broke the tie with a single down the right line.
Touhy and Montes each had RBI singles in the fifth to add to the lead, while a Davison sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk issued to Mulligan in the sixth put Denison ahead 7-4. The knockout blow came in the eighth inning when the Big Red plated five runs behind the strength of five hits and one OWU miscue. Madey got things going with a two-out single up the middle. Apfelbach followed with a first-pitch homer down the left line.
With the bases now clear, Mulligan legged out a triple on a ball hit over the right fielder's head. The junior came around to score on a double by Enrique. The freshman infielder came around to touch the dish on a dropped fly ball by first baseman Aaron Caputo. Nick Marsit drove in the final run of the inning on a base hit to right.
Freshman Johnny Funkhouser worked out of some earlier struggles to pitch eight innings of four-run ball en route to his second win of the season. Funkhouser allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Mulligan took the mound in the ninth and allowed just one hit before retiring the side.
Apfelbach and Mulligan combined to go 5-for-8 at the plate in game two with five runs and four RBIs. They also recorded three extra-base hits between them. Montes finished with two hits, including a triple, two runs and two RBIs, while Madey scored twice.
Moore and Greg Hock led the Bishops with three hits and one RBI each, while Justin Dages and Aaron Strausbaugh each had a pair of hits. Charles Cooper suffered the game-two loss after giving up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in 5.2 innings.
With the Sunday sweep, Denison moves to 12-10 overall and 8-2 in the NCAC West, while the Bishops fall to 6-18 and 1-7 in league play. The Big Red takes a break from conference play on Wednesday when they host La Roche at 3 p.m.
*Denison seniors Andrew Touhy and Connor Murphy were honored prior to game one of Sunday's doubleheader against Ohio Wesleyan. These two have helped the Big Red win 87 games, including 44 victories in conference play.