The Vincennes University Baseball Team split a doubleheader with Spoon River Saturday at Jerry Blemker Field when the Trailblazers won the first game, 5-3, and dropped Game 2 by an 8-7 score.
In Game 1, freshman Bryant Jackson (3-1) threw six innings of seven-hit baseball and sophomore Alex Rojas launched a two-run home run to lead the Trailblazers (8-14). VU scored all five of its runs in the first inning on four hits and a Spoon River error to take an early 5-1 lead, then slammed the door after the visiting Snappers had scored a run in the seventh and threatened to cut into the lead even more.
In addition to Rojas’ third round-tripper of the season, sophomore third baseman Lance Myers was 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI.
After Spoon River got a first inning run off of Jackson, thanks to a single and double, the Trailblazer offense went right to work in the bottom half of the first. Sophomore leadoff hitter and center fielder Matt Volz started things with a single and second baseman Jared Lauer reached on an error. Myers then scored both runners with a double before coming home on Rojas’ homer to make it 4-1. Sophomore shortstop Brad Hartman kept the inning going by drawing a base on balls and he stole second before sophomore catcher Jake Carey sacrificed Hartman to third. Sophomore designated hitter Chris Minks was up next and he drove in Hartman with an opposite field single to up the score to 5-1.
The VU bats cooled down after the first inning flurry but Jackson kept the Snappers at bay, allowing a single run in the third. Jackson scattered seven hits, struck out five and walked three on the day.
Freshman Austin Slover took over for Jackson to start the seventh inning. After a Spoon River leadoff walk and single, Hartman went to the mound from the shortstop position and got a double play ground ball on which a run scored and a fly ball to end the threat without further damage and close out the game for his first save.
Game 2 saw VU get out to a 7-0 advantage before Spoon River came all the way back to win 8-7 with seven runs in the sixth inning and the winning run in the seventh.
Freshman Lane Dransfield was in control on the mound for the first five innings, until starting to tire during the Snappers’ big sixth inning. Dransfield went 5 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits, fanning seven and issuing two walks.
Volz was 2-for-5 with a run scored and a run knocked in. Myers, Rojas, Slover and freshman outfielder Connor Pierce also had RBIs. Sophomore second baseman Kaleb Waller scored twice in Game 2.
The Trailblazers got on the board in the second game in the second inning. Freshman outfielder Zach Norman and Pierce drew walks to open the inning and sophomore catcher Garrett Smith reached on an error to load the bases. Waller then hit a groundball that Spoon River pitcher Sam Edmonson booted for the Snappers’ second consecutive error and everyone was safe, including Norman who scored. Volz drove in the second run of the inning when his single plated Pierce and Myer then worked a bases-loaded walk to bring in Smith and make it 3-0. Rojas followed with a run-scoring single and Slover capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Volz and make it 5-0 VU after two innings.
The Trailblazers scored their sixth run in the third and their last run in the fourth when Myers drew a one-out walk, followed by Rojas’ base on balls and Slover being hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Pierce singled to bring in Myers. Rojas attempted to score behind Myers but was called out on a play at the plate.
Dransfield - who gave up only three hits through the first five innings - and VU cruised until the sixth. That’s when Spoon River got a leadoff single and with one out, strung together three more singles. After a pair of two-out walks, the Snappers got their fifth single of the inning and Dransfield was relieved by freshman Tyler Smith. Smith (0-2) walked another Spoon River hitter and yielded a hit before getting the last out of the inning on a liner to Volz in center. When the dust cleared from the top half of the sixth inning, Spoon River had sent 13 hitters to the plate and the score was tied at 7-7.
VU went 1-2-3 on three groundouts in the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, the Snappers got a leadoff baserunner on a VU error and the runner eventually scored on a hit. After another Spoon River walk, sophomore Drew Johnston took over for Smith and got a fly ball and a strikeout to end the inning, but the Snappers had grabbed the lead, 8-7.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pierce was issued a leadoff walk and Smith and pinch-hitter Minks both advanced him to third. With two outs, the Trailblazers’ chances of tying the game sputtered as a strikeout ended the game.
The Trailblazers continue their homestand Sunday. VU will host a 1 p.m. twinbill vs. St. Joseph’s. VU continues its string of home games on Monday with a 6 p,m. contest vs. Wabash Valley. VU will play yet again on Tuesday at home as the Trailblazers host Sinclair in another doubleheader at 2 p.m., and the stretch of games at Jerry Blemker Field wraps up Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game vs. Danville.