The Taylor baseball team took home the 2023 Crossroads League Regular Season Championship after defeating Goshen College in a four game series with three wins.
Game one’s score was a near blowout, 15-1 and game two was closer but not as close, 11-5. With two games left against each other in the regular season, Taylor will finish the year off with a 37-13, (30-6).
Game one of the series was where Taylor locked up the title and finished in seven innings due to Taylor's large amount of offensive production. The game was scoreless until freshman Ben Kennedy hit a flyball out to right center field that was an RBI that allowed junior Luke Picchioti to go to third base and freshman Brendan Frickel to go home. Picchioti ran home thanks to a senior T.J Bass flyball. The fourth and fifth inning is where the Trojans went to work and put nine runs on the board. Two runs were homers from Bass and Kennedy. Goshen's one score happened in the sixth inning via a home run liner from Jenner Rodhammer.
In game one, Goshen was defeated by junior Matt Dutkowski with the help of talented freshman pitcher Jake Boyer. As a freshman pitcher, Boyer demonstrated exceptional skill and efficiency on the field, delivering three strikeouts in just 26 pitches throughout the last two innings of the game.
During game two of the series competition, freshman Brayden Manning, showcased an outstanding performance on the field. He managed to secure three at-bats and scored two runs, along with an impressive four RBI's throughout the game. In his first at-bat, Manning hit an electrifying home run that travelled down the left field line, paving the way for freshman Sam Gladd to score.
In the third game of the series, sophomore pitcher Dalton Swinehart proved to be a crucial player for five innings. Swinehart's efforts paid off as he secured the victory for the team while striking out an impressive 11 hitters out of a total of 20. Meanwhile, during the third inning, the team's offense was spearheaded by Taylor, putting up four hits and four runs in the statsheet.
Taylor dropped the last game of the regular season in a tight game that came down to the wire with a Goshen walk off winner that made the final score, 9-8. Goshen’s Preston Anderson hit the walk off single on their senior day. By the end of the third, Taylor was down 7-3. Valiant efforts from T.J Bass going 2-3 with three runs and 3 RBI’s and Mason David going 2-3 with two runs and two RBI’s gave Taylor hope that they could put together a comeback.
As a team, Taylor ranked in the top three in many categories in the conference rankings. Their impressive batting average of .309 ranks 2nd overall in the conference. This allowed them to be first in hits at 498 and score 455 runs. A historic season was had in the home run department hitting 79 homers which exceeds the previous record set in 2017 with 66 home runs. The high octane offense kept the fans coming out to support, putting Taylor second in home attendance and third in home attendance average.
In last year’s national tournament, Taylor had goals of going the distance but finished 1-2 in Upland bracket play. They defeated Columbia College 3-2 but dropped games to teams such as University of Northwestern Ohio 12-8 and Bryan College 6-1.
The NAIA National Championship Opening round is set to start on May 15 here at Taylor on Winterholter Field. The Trojans have aspirations to go for it all in this year's National Championship.