GAMBIER, Ohio -- A go-ahead home run in the sixth inning of game two powered the Big Red to a North Coast Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep at Kenyon on Wednesday. Denison took the opener 9-1 before rallying from an early deficit to take the nightcap 3-2.
After surrendering a first-inning run in the finale of Wednesday's doubleheader, Denison found themselves trailing the host Ladies for three and a half innings. All that changed in the top of the fifth. Freshman Charlotte Happel led off the frame with a double to center field. After a sacrifice bunt by senior Kerry Hager advanced the runner 60 feet, Happel was able to touch the dish on a misplayed fall by the Kenyon catcher on a play at the plate. All tied up with two outs still in the fifth, senior Ryan Lee blasted a double to the gap in left center that scored Sarah Herold from first base.
In the home half of the fifth, an RBI fielder's choice with the bases loaded tied the game at 2-2 with one out. Unfazed by the game-tying run, Big Red senior pitcher Erin Laswell proceeded to strike Grace Pilz out swinging before inducing a ground out to Ricki Asher to keep the go-ahead run from scoring. With one down in the sixth, sophomore Laura Bagan broke the tie with one swing of the bat as she sent a Keely Sweet pitch over the left field wall. Bagan's team-leading fifth homer of the year put DU ahead once again, 3-2.
Now holding onto a one-run edge, the Denison defense was tasked with maintaining the advantage. After Allison Stratman reached on a passed ball after striking out, Lee made an outstanding diving catch in foul territory for the first out. A ground ball to Asher allowed the Big Red infield to retire Stratman at second on the fielder's choice. Kenyon was able to get a pair of runners into scoring position, however, Laswell escaped the jam with a ground out to Asher.
Laswell retired the first two batters quickly in the seventh before surrendering a single down the right line. The senior brought the game to an end after inducing a ground ball back to the pitching circle for the final out. Laswell improved to 4-2 on the year after surrendering one earned run (two total) on seven hits with a career-high nine strikeouts. Bagan finished with two extra-base hits (double, home run), an RBI and a run scored, while Lee, Asher and Happel had DU's other three hits.
In the opener, the Big Red got their first of two spectacular pitching performances after Herold tossed a three-hit, one-run gem en route to her seventh win of 2017. The junior southpaw issued just one free pass and fanned six Kenyon batters.
The Denison offense went to work quickly, scoring three times in their first trip to the plate. Freshman catcher Lindsey Clemson delivered the big blow of the inning, driving in a pair with a triple down the right line. Bagan added to the lead in the third with an RBI single that scored Asher. Kenyon cut into the deficit with a single run in the fifth, but an error in the top of the sixth allowed DU to get the run back. The Big Red set the final score in the top of the seventh behind a pair of two-run singles by Lauren Secaras and Bagan.
Secaras went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs in game one, while Bagan drove in a game-high four runs. Asher recorded two hits and scored four times, while Lee scored twice. Mckinly Vazquez also had two hits and scored in the win.
Denison improves to 15-7 overall and 3-1 in NCAC play, while the Ladies fall to 10-18 and 2-2 in conference play. With Thursday's doubleheader at Thomas More getting postponed due to rain, the Big Red will return to action on Saturday (April 8) when they host league foe Oberlin. Game one of the twinbill is slated to start at 1 p.m.