The Taylor baseball team swept Indiana Wesleyan to extend it’s win streak to six games and improve to 7-3 in their last 10 matchups.
The series started on April 15 at Wildcat Field in Marion, Ind. In the first game, Taylor edged out Indiana Wesleyan with a score of 10-9. Taylor held a 9-7 lead going into the ninth inning, surviving an explosive six run inning in the third — put on by the Wildcats with players such as Jeff Morton, Lucas Goodin and Ty Matthews all reaching base. Morton hit a homer and Matthews sailed a ball out of the stadium, bringing two batters in.
In the eighth inning, Taylor flipped the script by scoring three runs to IWU’s zero. Taylor batters senior Kade Vander Molen hit a single and freshman Brennan Frickel scored. Evan Salmon hit another homer in the bottom half of the ninth, bringing in two runs to add to the scoreboard for Indiana Wesleyan, but Taylor came out victorious after the three hour battle.
Freshman pitcher Nick Crabtree did not allow a run, immediately halting IWU’s momentum from the two innings before. Crabtree collected win number 5 of the season. The pitching performances earned him NAIA National Pitcher of the Week.
“It is always fun to play IWU, but being able to focus on our own team and what we have to do to win helps with the pressure of playing them and executing in a big series,” sophomore Kaleb Kolpien said. “The atmosphere was fun and was awesome to be able to have people there enjoying a great spring weekend.”
Game two was a lower scoring affair with the Trojans emerging victorious winning 7-1.
Junior pitcher Matthew Dutkowski went to work putting the Wildcat offense to sleep. Indiana Wesleyan's one run came in the seventh inning but saw Taylor tally up three more runs of their own. The high-powered Trojan offense included the seven runs on just 10 hits thanks to junior Camden Knepp, Kolpien, Vander Molen, freshman Sam Gladd, freshman Brayden Manning, senior Ben Kalbaugh and sophomore Luke Picchioti.
“Our goal this series from a pitching standpoint was to attack early and get our starter deep into the game,” Dutkowski said. “From a pitching standpoint we didn’t change the way we attack hitters, we just played to our strengths”
Game three started slow through the first four innings but started to get progressively more explosive. The matchup needed extra innings having a total 23 runs between the two teams. Taylor edged out Indiana Wesleyan by one run, ending with a 12-11 score.
Taylor flexed their pitching excellence with sophomore Dalton Swinehart headlining half the game, throwing nearly one hundred pitches and accounting for 5.2 innings. Freshman Gabe Pentecost earned the win pitching two innings with junior Jack Ross, freshman Wes Hunt, sophomore Conner Miller and sophomore Jared Crandall all throwing over ten pitches.
In game four of the series, Taylor completed the sweep, defeating Indiana Wesleyan 9-5.
“We always talk about the other team but our game plan is focused on what we do best rather than the other team,” Kolpien said. “Our chemistry and communication was well executed, especially when we got down in the first game early and came back to win.”
Taylor now stands first in the conference with a 31-11 (24-4) record. Their final regular season series is against Goshen before the Crossroads League Tournament starts on May 3.