DEFIANCE, Ohio – The Yellow Jacket baseball team entered Saturday's doubleheader two games under .500 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a record of 3-5. Defiance's pitching staff stifled the MSJ hitters all day and led the Jackets to two victories, leveling their conference mark at 5-5.
The first game of the day was dominated by starting pitcher Jake Taylor. The senior threw five innings of no-hit baseball to begin the game, making quick work of the Mount St. Joseph hitters.
In that time frame, the Yellow Jacket hitters effectively used 'small ball' to plate three runs, as DC scored twice in the second off a combination of walks, infield hits and bunts to take a 2-0 lead. The Defiance offense added another run in the bottom of the fourth off a Lion error to increase its lead to 3-0.
After Taylor cruised through the first five innings on the mound, the Memorial High product gave up his first hit of the day, a single, to the MSJ leadoff hitter to break up the no-hitter and then got out of a first and third jam in the frame to keep the Lions scoreless.
The Mount St. Joseph offense showed signs of life in the top of the seventh after being silenced all game from the DC senior. The Lions scored two runs off a Nathan Frock single to close within one of the Purple and Gold at 3-2.
The Yellow Jackets immediately responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own to push the lead back up to three. Jonathan Murphy led off the inning with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Ryan Kohlhofer. The centerfielder scored on a wild pitch. A couple batters later Darin Waterman roped a double into left to score DC's fifth run of the game and push the lead back to three runs at 5-2.
Taylor ended his magnificent game on the mound by facing the minimum three batters in the eighth to finish with a line of eight innings pitched with four strikeouts while only allowing two runs on four hits and four walks.
Defiance closer Alex Schomaeker came into finish the game in the ninth, as the senior picked up his fifth save of the season to deliver the Yellow Jackets the victory.
The Lions from Mount quickly tried to steal all the momentum from DC in the top half of the first inning in the second game of the day. MSJ's Zak Wagner hit a solo homerun, the Lions first homer of the season, to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The score remained 1-0 until Aaron Helland rolled a single through the right side of the infield to score Jonathan Murphy in the third, tying the game at 1-1.
The Purple and Gold used an unconventional bottom of the fifth to take the lead, as the Jackets managed to score three runs while not recording a hit in the frame. Four of the first five hitters drew walks to take a one-run lead with the bases still loaded. Waterman then hit into a fielder's choice but scored two runs on the play due to a throwing error from a Lions' infielder to give DC a 4-1 lead.
After taking the lead, the Yellow Jackets nearly gave the advantage right back because of a shaky defensive top of the sixth. The Lions scored two runs off three Defiance errors to trim the lead back down to one at 4-3.
The Purple and Gold pitching and defense tightened up in the last three frames, allowing only two hits with no errors to secure a hard-fought 5-3 victory and its second win of the afternoon.
The Jackets' bullpen played a major role in the win, as Andy Habecker and Schomaeker combined to toss three and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball with four strikeouts. Schomaeker earned his second save of the day and his sixth of the season.
The key to the game two win was patience at the dish, as DC drew seven walks on the game to supplement the six hits the team recorded. Helland led the team with two hits and a walk in five plate appearances, while driving in two and scoring once.
The two victories improve the Yellow Jackets to four games over .500 on the season for an overall record of 12-8. The team will be back in action on Tuesday, April 9, as DC travels to No. 16 Manchester in an HCAC contest. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.