SALINA — The Bethany College baseball team (11-16, 3-3 KCAC) split the first of two doubleheaders with Kansas Wesleyan (10-14, 3-3 KCAC). The Swedes dropped the first game 19-9 on Thursday before coming back to win the second game 4-2 behind another strong pitching performance from Dan Eck.
After splitting a series with Friends University last week, the Swedes looked to knock off their KCAC rivals. Early in the first game it looked promising for Bethany College. The Swedes took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Lead-off hitter Sammuel Ramirez was hit by a pitch to give Bethany its first baserunner of the day. Christian Ornelas placed a sacrifice bunt near the pitching mound to move Ramirez into scoring position. Following another groundout, Pablo Contreras singled through the left side to score Ramirez.
The Coyotes would respond quickly, however. After a flyout to start the inning, Clayton Cozzitorto looked to be well on his way out of the inning getting the second batter to hit a high fly ball. The Swedes were unable to make the catch, resulting with a Coyote on second. The very next batter hit a line shot over the center field fence to give Kansas Wesleyan the 2-1 advantage.
The Swedes would respond in similar fashion as the first inning. Daniel Hordo led off the inning by being hit by a pitch and was moved to second base by a Jordan Geiger sacrifice bunt. Nicholas Ceccarelli walked to put runners on first and second. A fielder's choice left runners on first and third. Ramirez singled through the left side to score Hordo, tying the game 2-2.
Kansas Wesleyan would erupt for 10 runs in the second inning to regain the lead and push it out of reach for the Swedes. The Coyotes used seven hits to score their ten runs in the inning. After the inning, the Swedes trailed 12-2.
Bethany was down, but would answer in the the fifth inning. Trailing 13-2 at that point, Erik Pedersen led off the inning with a single to left field. Ramirez doubled to center field scoring Pedersen. Christian Ornelas doubled down the left field line on a 1-0 count scoring Ramirez, making it a 13-4 game. Contreras singled, scoring Ornelas. Following Bethany walk, Geiger singled to center which scored Contrearas. The Swedes trailed 13-6 at that point.
Kansas Wesleyan used another big inning to stretch the lead again. In the sixth inning the Coyotes added six more runs on three hits and three errors to extend the lead over the Swedes to 19-6. Bethany would make noise in the top of the seventh though. Contreras led off the inning with a single up the middle and Nick Lucchesi followed with a single to left center. Geiger was hit by a pitch to load the bases for the Swedes.
Cord Briggs pinch hit for the Swedes, although he grounded out to second base, it was still good enough to score Contreras. Pedersen struck out, but reached first base on a wild pitch. The wild pitch allowed another Swede runner to score. Ramirez then singled to left to score Anthony Burgess, who pinch ran for Geiger. The Swedes threat was ended with a fly out to deep right field.
Cozzitorto took the loss for Bethany, giving up six earned runs, on five hits, and walking three. He pitched only into the second inning. Ryley Ross gave up four runs on three hits in relief work. Robert Johnson pitched well for the Swedes, giving them 3 2/3 strong innings facing 22 batters only giving up four earned runs.
In the second game, the Swedes again got off to a fast start scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Hordo singled through the left side with one out. After a fly out, Contreras singled to center advancing the courtesy runner, Diego McCullum, to third. He would score on a fielding error by the center fielder giving the Swedes the 1-0 lead.
Eck got into some trouble in the bottom half of the inning. But thanks to some great defensive plays by his teammates, the Swedes got out of the inning without giving up a run. After giving up back-to-back singles, it looked as though Kansas Wesleyan was going to get on the board when the Coyotes’ Cunningham singled to left. Nate Estores made a great play getting the ball to Lucchesi at third who relayed it home to make the play at the plate. The Coyotes grounded out to end the inning, and Bethany ended the first with the 1-0 lead.
The Swedes went quickly in the second allowing Kansas Wesleyan to go back on the attack. Like the first game, the second inning had potential to turn into a big inning. Eck and the Swedes defense held the Coyotes to one run which they were unable to do in the first game.
The Swedes then responded in a big way, something they also were unable to do in the first game. With two outs and nothing going in the inning, Lucchesi homered to left field on a 2-2 count, giving life back into the Bethany dugout. The Swedes sure used it as on the very next pitch Contreras hit a home run to center field. Bethany held a 3-1 lead after the third inning.
Eck and Bethany's defense again worked quickly to get the Swedes back up to bat. When they did, Geiger responded hitting a 3-1 pitch over the center field fence. Giving the Swedes a 4-1 lead on three home runs in four batters.
Both defenses were solid over the next few innings as neither team scored, or even threatened to score until the seventh. The Swede reached third and looked to have a shot at score when Pedersen lined a shot into center field. But it was caught and the game went to the bottom of the seventh with Bethany leading 4-1.
The Coyotes would inch closer with a one-out home run to center field. However back-to-back groundouts to shortstop and second base ended the threat. Eck picked up the win for Bethany. He went seven complete innings, giving up two earned runs on nine hits, two walks and he struck out three.
For both games, Bethany collected 22 hits to score 13 runs. Contreras led the swedes going 6 for 8 at the plate with four RBIs and three runs scored. Geiger was also 3 for 5 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ramirez went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the first game.
"Obviously we were disappointed with our performance in game one," Bethany coach Andrew Bartman said. "I was pleased with how we bounced back with energy in Game Two. Dan (Eck) once again put us on his back and delivered, even without his best stuff. The home runs by Contreras, Geiger and Lucchesi helped us out. This really could be a turning point for us moving forward."
The Swedes will be back in action Saturday at 1 p.m. when they host Kansas Wesleyan in the second half of the series.