BUTLER, Pa. -- Thanks to solid starts on the mound from Danny Brackman and Perley Provost, Denison baseball improved to 14-6 on the season following a North Coast Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep of Allegheny College on Sunday evening in Butler, Pa. The Big Red defeated the Gators, 5-3, in game one, and then tallied a 7-0 shutout in game two.
Totaling five runs on 11 hits in game one, the Big Red offense went to work in the early innings, giving Brackman a lead to work with right from the start. In seven innings of action, Brackman allowed three runs on four hits with six strikeouts in his second win of the season.
Along with the solid start from Brackman, the DU bats ignited in the top of the first, thanks to back-to-back singles from Tanner Johnson and Grady Paine to begin the game. Senior Sam Frazen followed with a single to left that scored Johnson from third to take the first lead of the day.
Two batters later, Jack Blanchard hit a single to right center that cleared the bases for two more runs, giving Denison the 3-0 advantage heading to the home half of the inning.
A two-RBI double from Allegheny's Luke Chutko in the bottom of the first brought the Gators back within one run, 3-2, but with the bases juiced for the Big Red in the top of the second, Frazen increased the Denison lead with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Vince Walker in the process to make it a 4-2 game after one and a half innings of action.
Over the next six innings of work, Brackman settled in and took control of the plate as he allowed one run on two hits with six strikeouts and faced just two batters over the minimum.
With one out in the top of the eighth, Walker hit a triple to right center and was quickly rewarded with a run as Johnson's sacrifice fly to right scored Walker to increase the lead to 5-3.
Following Brackman's seven innings of service, Mikey Rivera relieved the starter in the bottom of the eighth to record the final six outs of the game and earn his fourth save of the season.
Frazen's 2-for-4 performance at the plate with two RBI's and one run scored led the charge for DU, while Paine finished 3-for-5 and Johnson added an RBI on two hits.
Denison's positive pitching trend continued in game two as Provost worked more than eight innings of shutout baseball. In 8 1/3 innings pitched, Provost kept the sheet clean while scattering six hits and recording 10 strikeouts. His 10 K's matched a career-high that he set back on April 1, 2017, in a complete-game shutout against Wabash. The win also moved Provost to 4-0 on the season.
The DU bats also stayed hot in the twin bill finale as they gave Provost an early 1-0 lead to work with following an RBI single from Frazen, scoring Johnson from third.
Leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, sophomore Brian McAuliffe ripped an RBI double down the right-field line, and in the next at-bat, Will Krushena scored Frazen from third with a sacrifice fly to right extending the Big Red lead to 4-0.
After Nick Pettigrew tacked on another run in the top of the eighth with an RBI sacrifice fly to score Krushena, McAuliffe recorded his second double of the game in the top of the ninth to send Anthony Ruggieri and Johnson across the plate and give DU a 7-0 advantage heading to the bottom of the ninth.
Provost was able to garner the first out of the inning on a strikeout to Chutko, but Andrew Bruss entered in relief for the final two outs and cashed in on a 5-3 double play to secure the sweep.
McAuliffe led the Big Red at the plate with a 2-for-5 performance while totaling 3 runs batted in. In total, Denison starters went a combined 15.1 innings on the mound and recorded 16 strikeouts in their first conference doubleheader sweep of the season.
DU will return to Big Red Field on Wednesday, April 11 as they welcome DePauw University to Granville for a doubleheader set to begin at 1:30 p.m.