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Strong start guides Big Red past Crusaders in home opener

Vince Walker  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Vince Walker | Photo by Jace Delgado

GRANVILLE, Ohio – Denison baseball erupted for six runs in the first two innings of action as the Big Red secured the 13-1 victory over Capital University on Friday afternoon in their home opener at Big Red Field. This was also DU's seventh straight victory of the season dating back to Feb. 24 when they defeated Ferrum College, 16-7.

Totaling 11 hits for the game, the Big Red bats came to life in the home half of the first after senior starting pitcher Danny Brackman recorded the final two outs of the inning with the bases loaded.

Following a pair of hit-by-pitches from Capital starter Clay Piatt and a walk to Brian McAuliffe, Will Krushena drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Ty Robinson from third. After a walk to Max Lahn loaded the bases again, a balk on Piatt scored Grady Paine from third and put the Big Red ahead, 2-0.

After the Crusaders went to Scott Gutstein following Piatt's third walk of the inning, a walk to Vince Walker scored McAuliffe. A sacrifice fly from Anthony Ruggieri in the next at-bat added to Denison's lead and put the Big Red ahead 4-0 after the first.

In the bottom of the second, McAuliffe continued his strong day at the plate with a two-out single to right center. Krushena scored McAuliffe in the next at-bat on an RBI double to deep center, while Lahn drove in Krushena with a single up the middle. The Big Red led 6-0 entering the third.

Leading 7-1 in the fifth, Denison continued to thrive with two outs as Walker ripped an RBI single to right, scoring Lahn to make it an 8-1 game. After a single to center from Ruggieri put runners at second and third, Nick Pettigrew reached first in the next at-bat following an error on Capital's Beau Otto. The CU miscue scored Walker and Ruggieri to give the Big Red a 10-1 advantage.

Adding two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a double to left from Brad Baldinger, the Big Red put the game out of reach and received four shut-out innings from Kenny Lippman, Henry Haack, John Troll, and Jack Arnstein in the Denison bullpen to solidify the victory. The win moves DU to 7-1 on the season, while Capital falls to 2-8.

Also improving to 7-0 in home openers during the Mike Deegan era, the Big Red posted multi-hit days from Lahn, McAuliffe, and Paine. Lahn finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored and an RBI. McAuliffe and Paine each scored two runs, while Krushena, Baldinger, and Walker each tallied two RBIs.

On the hill, Brackman earned his third victory of the season after allowing one run, two walks and recorded three strikeouts in five innings of work. The loss went to Piatt after he surrendered four runs and three walks in one-third of an inning.

Denison will hit the road this weekend when they travel to Port Charlotte, Fla. and compete in the Snowbird Classic. The Big Red open their spring break trip this Sunday, March 17 with a 2:30 p.m. first-pitch against Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.).