The Kalamazoo College baseball team entered the weekend with a 13-7 record in MIAA play, two wins shy of the school record for conference wins in a season.
The Hornets travelled to Alma on Saturday with hopes of returning home having tied for the school record. However, the Scots had different plans, entering the day just one game behind the Hornets for third place in the MIAA, this series was huge for both teams as the MIAA tournament fast approaches. Sophomore Ryan Orr took the mound in game one for the Hornets, looking to capture a team high seventh win of the season. Orr found himself in a pitchers’ duel right off the bat, as Alma junior Alex Valasek took the hill looking for his sixth win. The two hurlers matched each other scoreless inning for scoreless inning through the first five and a half innings, but in the bottom of the sixth, the Scots finally broke the deadlock, plating two runs. Those two runs would be enough for Valasek, who pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only one hit.
Game two looked like it might be more of the same for the Hornets, who found themselves trailing 3-0 after five innings, but a single from junior Brett Garwood opened the Hornets account for the series by bringing home junior Mitch VanKoevering. Alma replied in the bottom half of the inning though, doubling their run total and increasing their lead to 6-1. In the top of the seventh though, Kalamazoo scored three of their own, to cut the deficit to 6-4. The score stayed the same until the top of ninth when the Hornets came to bat. K started off the inning with back to back baserunners, a walk from first year Jordan Wiley started the inning, and game one’s starting pitcher Ryan Orr followed up with a single. After a fly out, junior David Kracht singled to cut the deficit to 6-5, junior third baseman Jack Clark then plated the tying run with a single, putting the go ahead run on third with only one out. VanKoevering then drew a walk to load the bases for the Hornets, and sophomore Connor Grant grounded out to score the go ahead run. Garwood then added two more RBI to his stat line, giving the Hornets a 9-6 lead going into the bottom of the final frame. After pitching six innings in game one, and contributing to the rally in the top half of the inning, Orr was then called upon to shut the door on the Scots with runners already on first and second. The sophomore made quick work of the Alma hitters though, inducing a fly out, and then a game ending line drive double play to secure the Hornets victory.
Returning home for day two of the series, the Hornets found themselves in a familiar position, falling in game one after Alma scored seven in the first two innings. Looking to tie the school record in the final game of the weekend, Coach Ott handed the ball to junior Nic Janssen to start the final game of the series. And Janssen was certainly up to the task, tossing 6 strong innings, allowing only two runs. Connor Grant got the Hornets on the board in the fourth inning, driving in two runs on a double to even the game at 2-2. Kalamazoo added to their total in the bottom of the sixth inning, as VanKoevering plated Clark to give K the lead 3-2, and Grant and Garwood also added RBIs. Again with runners on first and second, starter turned closer Ryan Orr was called upon to get the Hornets out of a jam. To no one’s surprise, Orr again got the Hornets out of the inning, and then pitched two more scoreless innings to earn his second save of the weekend, and seal the Hornets record tying fifteenth MIAA victory of the campaign.
The baseball team hosts Calvin for senior day this Saturday, and currently remains in third place in the MIAA.
After finishing up MIAA play earlier in the week against Alma, the Kalamazoo Softball team travelled to Manchester for their final pair of games.
Junior Erin DuRoss got the call in game one for the Hornets, looking for her sixth win of the season. DuRoss was pitching well, but Kalamazoo still found themselves trailing 1-0 as they headed to the fifth inning. The Hornets began the inning by loading the bases, putting them in prime position to at least even the score. They did just that, first year Andrea MacMichael reached on an error by Manchester, allowing senior Rachel Epstein to score to tie the game. Next up was DuRoss, looking to help herself out on the mound, DuRoss cracked a double that plated two runs, giving K a 3-1 lead. The Spartans managed to start a small rally in the bottom of the seventh, knocking in a run to cut the Hornet lead to 3-2, but DuRoss finished what she started by closing the door on the Spartans for the complete game victory.
The performances on the mound and at the plate are nothing new for DuRoss. The junior led the team in At Bats, RBI, Doubles, and Hits at the plate, settling for second in batting average. She also stood out on the mound, leading the Hornets in Innings Pitched, ERA, Wins and Strikeouts. DuRoss finished the season with career bests in all four of those categories as well, finishing with a 6-11 record, 128 2/3 innings pitched, and 117 strikeouts.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, they were unable to end the season on a winning note. Trailing 3-0, K mounted a rally in the top of the seventh inning of game two, but stranded the tying run at second base in the end. The rally came from the bats of seniors playing their final games in the black and orange, as Epstein started off the inning with a double. Senior catcher Dana Page then doubled to put the Hornets on the board, and then scored 3 batters later when fellow senior Victoria Njacht singled her home. The senior-led rally came up just short though, and the Hornets fell in the end 3-2.
Kalamazoo finished the season tied for sixth place in the MIAA, with a 6-10 conference record, and 11-24 overall.