The Taylor baseball team dropped three close games in Georgia this weekend against nationally ranked Reinhardt University.
The Trojans were originally scheduled to play in the NAIA Southeast Rumble round robin style tournament with other nationally ranked teams, but plans changed, allowing for the series.
Coming off of a successful trip to Tennessee, playing Bethel University and winning two games out of three, the team was eager to get down to Georgia and play. Despite the plans to play in the tournament changing, the Trojans were unphased.
“It’s just another really good team. Who we play doesn’t change who we are as a team. We still show up to practice with the same mindset,” Junior Noah Huseman said.
Game one saw the Trojans have many opportunities to put runs on the scoreboard, putting runners on base in seven of the nine innings. The runs did not come though as the Trojans would lose 6-3. Taylor would make the game as close as 4-3 with junior Nick Rusche scoring off a wild pitch. The Trojans were also helped by eight strikeouts from senior starter Joe Moran and a multi-hit game from junior TJ Bass.
Game two was a nail biter and a pitching battle. An 11-inning showdown would see Reinhardt come out on top again 3-2, despite the Trojans outhitting Reinhardt eight to five. Huseman would deliver as the starting pitcher with eight strikeouts like game one starter Moran. The Trojans would also be helped by a masterful performance in relief by senior Mitch Ubelhor with eight strikeouts on nine outs. His performance would earn him Crossroads League Pitcher of the Week. The game was taken into extra innings off a clutch two-run homerun from sophomore catcher Ben Kalbaugh.
Game three would end up being different with Taylor gaining an early advantage with a 3-0 lead after the first inning. A two-run double in the first inning from sophomore Matt Dutkowski, with Rusche and Bass scoring. A sacrifice fly from senior Jonathan Foster would bring sophomore Conner Crawford home to extend the lead to 3-0.
The fifth inning would be a completely different story. Reinhardt would score four runs and take back control of the game. Costly mistakes like three walks and two batters hit would contribute to the damage.
The seventh inning would see the Trojans regain some life. Bass would hit a key double to set up Dutkowski to knock in yet another RBI. It was Bass’ fifth multi-hit game of the season. In the bottom half of the inning, Reinhardt would knock in two unearned runs to close the game out, 6-4 being the final score.
“We were kind of focused on our first three innings. Just putting it past you, knowing you have six innings left, just focus on that, chipping away and coming back,” Bass said was key to closing out these close games.
The Trojans fall to 7-6 on the season after the sweep. They return to action at home against nationally ranked Indiana Tech with a three game series on February 26th. They begin Crossroads League play against Goshen on March 4th at home as well.