Baseball splits exciting series with Clarkson

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baseballThe baseball team split a wild doubleheader with Clarkson last Saturday that saw 32 runs cross the plate and 14 errors made between the two teams. Union’s powerful lineup got on the board early in the opener, jumping out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. Kent Curran ’17 had three RBI, while Sean Cullen ’20 also drove in a run. Cullen would later earn another RBI with a double in the fifth. The Dutchmen took advantage of poor infield defense, as errors by Clarkson’s shortstop kept rallies alive in each of the innings. Five of the seven runs were unearned as a result. The Dutchmen’s own defensive struggles allowed Clarkson to chip away and cut the lead to 7-3 after three. None of the three runs were charged to Union starter Jake Vesling ’18, although Vesling did make one of the team’s two errors in the third inning. Vesling, one of Union’s best players both at the plate and on the mound, kept the lead intact over the next three innings. Down 8-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Clarkson’s bats woke up in a big way. With the bases loaded and one out, Clarkson’s Cam Bando doubled to right-center, scoring two runs to slice Union’s lead in half. Vesling was replaced by Bill Christopher ’18 after Bando’s hit. A walk loaded the bases, setting up Mike Messier’s game-tying double to right field. A throwing error on the relay back into the infield allowed the winning run to score and cap off Clarkson’s dramatic comeback. Union didn’t seem too fazed by the disappointing defeat. Once again, the Dutchmen grabbed an early commanding lead in the second game. Vesling, Andy Labeck ’18 and Joe Ganim ’19 all had run scoring singles in a four-run first inning. Labeck and Ganim also each plated runs in the second after Clarkson scratched an unearned run off Union starting pitcher Ryan Kuchar ’18 in the bottom of the first. Kuchar gave up just two earned runs over his six innings of work. Similar to Game 1, Clarkson refused to go away, adding two more runs in the bottom of the third to cut it to 6-3. Union’s lineup, however, kept pouring it on. Cullen continued his great day at the plate with a RBI single, and Labeck drove in his fourth run of the game in the top of the fourth. The Dutchmen managed to hold on, despite making six errors in the nine-inning game and Clarkson trimming their lead to 8-7. Nick Williams ’18 protected the slim lead in relief of Kuchar, keeping Clarkson off the board over the final three innings while striking out three and allowing five hits. Last Saturday may not be the last time these two teams face off this season as both have already sealed a spot in the Liberty League playoffs. “I think this year’s team is just as good, and could even be better than last year’s team,” said pitcher Adam Ashenfarb ’17, “We have a lot of returners who are even more experienced now and younger guys who have really stepped up. Everyone buys into what we want to accomplish at lifts and practices and it shows on the field.” With Clarkson’s regular season over, Union only needs one more league win to be locked in as the tournament’s second seed. They will have the opportunity to do so this weekend in a pair of doubleheaders with RPI in a rematch of last year’s championship game.

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