Carol Stream, Ill.- The Wheaton baseball team earned a doubleheader split against the conference-leading Titans of Illinois Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon under clear skies at Lee Pfund Stadium. Wheaton rallied from behind in game one but fell just short in a 9-8 loss but rebounded to win game two of the doubleheader 1-0 behind a spectacular pitching performance from Trey Martin. With the split, Wheaton improves to 14-8 on the season and 4-4 in CCIW play while the Titans move to 12-8 overall and 7-1 in the CCIW.
Playing as the visitors on their home field, Wheaton fell behind early in game one as the Titans struck for two runs in the first and five runs in the second to claim a 7-0 lead. Wheaton responded with a five-run third inning that started with a bases-loaded single by John Jensen-Johnson to put Wheaton on the board. Kyle Mellinger followed with a two-run single up the middle and Jake Portugal's two-run triple cut the Titan lead to 7-5.Illinois Wesleyan threatened again in the bottom of the fourth inning with runners on second and third and no outs but Johnson gunned down a runner at the plate for the first out and Tom Bishop got out of the inning thanks to an inning-ending double play. Wheaton chipped into the lead again in the top of the sixth inning when Matt Schappell scored on a ground rule double by Johnson. The Titans extended their lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two-run home run by Jon Frericks to make the score 9-6.
The Thunder rallied once again in the top of the ninth inning by loading the bases with one outs. Justin Swider's sacrifice fly to deep right center plated Matt Krause and Trey Martin's single through the left side scored Josh Kimmel to cut the lead to 9-8 and put the tying run on second base. Wheaton was unable to even things up and fell short in their comeback attempt.
Both teams had 17 hits in game one with Wheaton leaving 15 runners on base while the Titans stranded just 10 runners. Justin Swider (PICTURED RIGHT) was 5-5 in game one with a run scored and a run driven in. Johnson, Mellinger and Portugal each had two hits and two RBI. Bishop and Michael Kaufman combined for five scoreless innings of relief.
After the offensive opener, the nightcap of the doubleheader turned into a pitchers duel between the Titans' Robert Romano and Wheaton's Trey Martin. Martin stole the show early, striking out the side in the second and third innings and recording eight strikeouts through the first three innings. Romano was able to strike out six in six scoreless innings but worked around danger on multiple occasions.
Taylor Howe led off the third inning with a double to left center but would get no further than second base. Kyle Mellinger was hit by a pitch and stole second with one out in the fifth but again Wheaton could not get the run home. Martin finally found trouble in the bottom of the fifth when a leadoff single and a walk put runners on first and second with one out but a timely double play ended the inning.Finally, Wheaton broke through in the top of the eighth inning when Kimmel (PICTURED LEFT) led off with a single and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Schappell. after a strikeout, Martin was intentionally walked and John Jensen-Johnson came up with an RBI single through the right side to give Wheaton the 1-0 lead.
Another double play by the Thunder erased a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth and Martin emphatically closed the game with his 13th strikeout of the afternoon for the final out. Nick Hahn recorded both hits off of Martin for the Titans. Josh Kimmel was 2-4 with the lone run scored for the Thunder.
Wheaton will conclude its three-game series with Elmhurst on Wednesday night at 5 PM at Lee Pfund Stadium.