GRANVILLE, Ohio-- You can't deny it any longer. Something very special is happing with Denison baseball.
The Big Red extending its winning streak to 11 games after a sweep of Allegheny on Saturday. No. 18 Denison prevailed 9-1 in the opener but needed a little ninth inning magic in the nightcap to come away with the 8-7 victory.
The pair of wins moves Denison's record to an eye-popping 21-2, easily the best start in the 129-year history of the program. DU's 21 wins is the second-most in all of Division III baseball (386 teams) and their .913 winning percentage ranks them fourth behind only Hope (.950), Concordia Chicago (.944) and Christopher Newport (.916).
In game two, Denison took a 5-3 lead into the eighth inning. Taylor Perrett got the start and pitched the first 5.2 innings before turning the ball over to John Troll who got DU out of a jam in the sixth. In the eighth, Allegheny strung together three-straight singles off Troll in the eighth. Rivera entered with one out and runners on first and second and pinch hitter Ethan Pawlak reached base on a fielders choice that ended in a throwing error by Max Lahn at shortstop that scored Bret Kelly from second. Dalton Dubois followed with an RBI single to right to give the Gators a 6-5 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth.
DU went in order in the eighth and Allegheny added an insurance run in the ninth on an RBI single by Chutko.
Facing one of their first do-or-die situations in weeks, Denison answered the call in the bottom of the ninth. Anthony Ruggieri drew a lead-off walk and Lahn reached base on an error by the third baseman, which allowed both base runners to move into scoring position. Grady Paine drove in Ruggieri with a ground out to first base that moved Lahn to third. Ty Robinson tied the game with a single up the middle and later stole second with two outs setting up Brian McAuliffe who delivered the walk-off, game-winning single.
McAuliffe's walk-off capped off a 3-for-4 nightcap that featured a season-high four RBIs. Paine was 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored and Will Krushena was 2-for-4 with a walk and one run scored. Krushena not only upped his season batting average to .409 he also extended his hitting streak to 23 games. The Denison program record for the longest hitting streak is 27, set by Charlie Apfelbach in 2013.
Rivera got the win in relief to improve to 3-0. Dalton Donachie (2-1) was tagged with the loss in 4.0 innings of relief.
In game one, Danny Brackman fired a complete game victory to improve to 6-1 on the season. He allowed only six hits and one earned run while striking out seven on 103 pitches.
Krushena opened the game with an RBI double in the first. A four-run second inning gave the Big Red a nice 5-0 cushion. In the fourth, Paine blasted a solo homer to right. Over the final five innings, Allegheny had only five base runners and two of the innings ended on double plays to Lahn at shortstop.
The Big Red totaled 11 hits and nine runs in game one. Krushena and Paine had two hits and two RBIs apiece.
With the wins, Denison also moves to 6-0 in North Coast Athletic Conference play. Denison's game at Muskingum that was scheduled for Sunday, April 7 has been postponed due to rain in the forecast. No make-up date has been set.