The University of Redlands baseball squad competed in its fifth-consecutive, non-conference game when it squared off against the Kean University (NJ) Cougars on a warm day at the Yard. The Bulldogs mashed at the plate once again by plating 13 runs while successfully taking care of business on the mound by allowing only three runs en route to a solid victory.
Junior pitcher Michael Collins (Upland, CA) was handed the pearl for the start after acting as a long-reliever for most of the season thus far. Collins made the most of his opportunity, as he dominated most of the game by holding the Cougars' offense scoreless from the second through the fifth inning.
After the Cougars grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Bulldogs got the bats rolling in the bottom of the second inning with a lead-off double from sophomore third baseman Christian Conci (San Mateo, CA). Junior first baseman Ryan Franklin (Manhattan Beach, CA) dug into the box a batter later to blast a single down the right-field line, plating Conci to tie the game at one apiece.
Collins maintained the tie by effectively pitching to contact and allowing his defense to do the work for him.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, sophomore second baseman Christopher Scalisi(Woodland Hills, CA) lined a single up the middle to score freshman designated hitter Joey Warner (Indio, CA), who reached on a single, leading to the Bulldogs' first lead of the day at 2-1.
The Maroon and Gray set its offense to cruise control from that moment on, outscoring Kean by an 11-to-3 margin in the following four frames.
Senior right-fielder Connor Hancock (Burbank, CA) kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning by notching an RBI-groundout that plated senior catcher Sean McMillan(Lakewood City, CA). Conci and Franklin each barreled up two-strike, RBI-knocks in the inning as well, while Conci's went for a triple and Franklin's went for a double, for the Bulldogs' 5-1 advantage.
Conci's offensive antics were far from over as he singled down the left-field line to score Hancock and notch his third hit of the day. Franklin followed with yet another two-strike poke through the left side with the infield in to bring home Conci.
McMillan provided the backbreaking bang of the inning, as he cleared the bases with a two-out double, forcing a Cougar pitching change.
However, the nightmare was not over for Kean, as senior pinch-hitter Christian Gurrola(Torrance, CA) and junior pinch-hitter Tyler Shreve (Redlands, CA) tallied RBI-knocks to complete a seven-run inning and grab the lead at 12-3.
McMillan continued to swing the stick effectively by notching his second RBI-double of the game, plating freshman pinch-runner Will Hall (Seattle, WA) to put the icing on the cake for Redlands' 13-3 victory.
Collins picked up the win after tossing seven strong and fanning two batters.
Conci finished a homerun away from the cycle after going 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. The past five games have bode well for the junior slugger, as he holds a five-game hitting streak while going 10-for 18 with five RBI and eight runs scored since he broke into the line-up as a starter.
"We just came in and tried to bring the energy every time," said Conci. "We want to stay focused and go get Cal Lu over the weekend."
McMillan was 2-for-4 in the day with four RBI, while Franklin provided a 3-for-5 showing with three RBI and two runs scored.
The one-two punch of sophomore reliever John White (Burbank, CA) and freshman Adam Stead (Rialto, CA) was lights out once again, with each contributor tossing a scoreless frame and striking out one batter.
Head Coach Aaron Holley once again touched on the importance of depth and how he feels comfortable digging deep into his arsenal of weapons from the top to the bottom of his roster.
"This weekend - although it's long – we got a lot of guys in," said Holley. "We can use whatever momentum we gained from the weekend [after] going 4-1 and take that into the Cal Lutheran series. They're going to be good. They always are, so we have to be ready to go to war with them."
The Bulldogs (14-6, 7-5 SCIAC) hop back into conference action on Friday, March 20, against conference-leading and fifth-ranked Cal Lutheran University (14-4, 8-1 SCIAC) in Thousand Oaks at 3 p.m.