Pair of Nailbiters Results in Split for Grace Baseball

By Josh Neuhart

Crossroads League foes Grace and Bethel combined for a pair of tightly contested baseball games on Monday with each team winning one of two.

The Lancers scored four runs in the 10th inning to win 8-4 in the opener before falling 2-1 in a pitchers’ duel.

Grace needed a seventh-inning rally to send the first game into extra innings. Bethel held a 4-0 lead heading into Grace’s half of the seventh.

Jeff Himes and Frank Rocchio got the Lancers’ rally started with consecutive RBI singles, and Jacob Bloom’s sacrifice fly scored Joey Hickerson to put Grace behind 4-3 with two outs. Himes then tied the game on the next at-bat when he scored on a Bethel throwing error.

The score remained deadlocked at 4-4 until the top of the 10th inning when Grace ripped off four runs. Bethel committed three errors to aid Grace’s cause.

The Pilots tallied two hits in the bottom of the inning and also had a batter hit by a pitch, but a 6-4-3 double play and a pop out to second base retired the side.

Dellos Schabel earned the win from the mound by tossing four innings of scoreless ball, and Michael Reitz tossed 1.1 innings of relief without yielding a run.

Joey Hickerson started the game from the mound, yielding two earned runs and five hits in 4.2 innings. He also went 3-for-6 with a run and a stolen base from the plate.

Steven Hovermale was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Dillon Papa plated twice as well.

Offense was much harder to come by in the second game as the game entered the bottom of the sixth inning scoreless.

The Pilots struck first when they scored a runner from third base on a wild pitch.

Grace countered with the tying run in the top of the seventh. Hovermale reached base on a walk and advanced to second base on a ground ball. Jeff Watkin then singled to center field to bring in Hovermale and tie the game.

Bethel won the game in their next at-bats, however. The Pilots loaded the bases with one out and singled in the game winner to left field.

Matt Helm took the loss despite giving up just seven hits in six innings.

CJ Swartz and Jeff Watkin recorded the only two hits of the second game for Grace.

Grace, nearing the end of the regular season, has one four-game series remaining against Crossroads League leader Taylor University. The Lancers remain one game behind the Pilots for eighth place in the league standings.

Grace’s home finale will be against Taylor on Thursday at 2 p.m. They will wrap up the regular season on Saturday 1 p.m. at Taylor.