Kayla Springer | Echo
The Taylor baseball team ended the regular season swinging on Monday night as they took down Grace in a doubleheader at Winterholter Field. These wins brought Taylor's Crossroads League record to 20-7, earning them the second place seed as they head into tournament play.
What started out as a rough day at the plate ended with a number of impressive at-bats for the Trojans. That day, Taylor compiled 15 extra-base hits, totaling 31 hits in all and 31 total runs scored.
In the first game of the evening, Taylor trailed 9-1 through five innings before freshman Andrew Kennedy blasted a solo home run to kick-start the Trojan offense. Junior Tanner Watson followed suit, claiming his own three-run homer to bring the score to 9-5. The trio of junior Sam Wiese, sophomore Wyatt Whitman and freshman Brian Fields all contributed run-scoring doubles in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score at nine.
The most thrilling moment of Game 1 came in the bottom of the eighth inning, when sophomore Austin Mettica hit a walk-off home run for a 12-11 win. Freshman Mitch Ubelhor earned his first win on the mound with four strikeouts in the final two innings of the game.
Head coach Kyle Gould commended the offense for showing a lot of fight in battling back from the 9-1 deficit, as well as Lawson and Ubelhor for holding Grace down and giving the team a chance to finish off the comeback.
The purple and gold attack utilized the entirety of its line up, spreading out their 11 RBIs and the same number of hits among seven Taylor players. Whitman claimed two RBIs of his own for Game 1, followed by four more in Game 2. The sophomore totaled three hits and came around the bases four times. In his opinion, momentum was a compelling factor that allowed the team to come out strong in Game 2.
"I think the difference was our approach after the first game," Whitman said. "We took the momentum from that walk-off home run and ran with it."
Taylor wasted no time setting the tone for the second game of the day, scoring seven runs in the first inning. The final score, 19-1 in favor of the Trojans, included home runs from Whitman, freshman Brett Lawson and junior Jared Adkins.
Seniors Luke Hunter and Colin Eggleson along with Fields recorded 10 strikeouts collectively in Game 2, as Eggleson earned another win on the mound to improve to 5-0 this season. This was the final regular season home game for Hunter and Eggleson, along with fellow seniors Logan Rodgers and Jordan Crabb.
As this group of seniors enter their final postseason run, Hunter is feeling nostalgic with the end of his final season as a Trojan.
"Knowing that this is my last go around with the game of baseball is a hard thing to deal with," Hunter said. "But at the same time, I'm ready to go out and compete for a conference championship through the tournament, which is always a hard thing to do."
Whitman stated that the team is focusing on playing their best baseball during the tournament. In his words, there is no better time to get hot than in the postseason
Taylor will enter the tournament just two games behind (RV) Huntington, and has high hopes for the postseason. With that goal in mind, though, Gould is striving for consistency in the team's mental approach to conference tournament play.
"I would hope that we remain consistent and focus on what we need to do as a team and not worry about our opponent or the consequences of each game," Gould said. "I know that's a hard thing to do, but this game is so up and down that finding a consistent approach to the game is crucial to be successful."
The Trojans will look to accomplish the first step in this process as they host Goshen in the first round of the conference tournament this Saturday, May 6 at 3 p.m.
"Photograph by Sean Quillen"