The top-ranked College of Wooster baseball team jumped on ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins University starter Preston Betz, and held off a ninth-inning rally by the Blue Jays to win 5-2 on Friday at historic Terry Park in Fort Myers, Florida.
"It was really important to get out to a lead in this one," said head coach Tim Pettorini. "Johns Hopkins had a chance in the first inning to put up some runs. Dan Harwood made a good play in left field to throw out a guy at third base. Evan (Faxon) made a few good pitches to get us out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts, and then we really got on them. That enabled us to settle in and really play our game."
Wooster (3-1), which benefitted from five Johns Hopkins (9-2) errors, struck first when senior Jacob Stuursma scored on classmate Chandler Dippman's single and subsequent miscue by Johns Hopkins right fielder Austin Sacks.
An inning later, Stuursma continued to generate offense out of the leadoff spot with a two-out, two-run double that upped Wooster's lead to 3-0. Junior Harry Witwer-Dukes started the rally with a one-out single, while senior Harrison Walls followed suit with a base knock of his own. However, Walls was erased on the bases when junior Aaron Spidell reached on a fielder's choice.
Wooster's final two runs came in the fifth inning. Senior Garrett Crum continued the hit parade with a one-out single up the middle, and junior Dan Gail did likewise. Witwer-Dukes lifted a sacrifice fly out to center to bring Crum home, while Gail trotted across right after, thanks to a boot by Blue Jays' third baseman Matt Ritchie.
Johns Hopkins, which carried a seven run per-game average and an eight-game winning streak into Friday's contest, was kept in check offensively until the ninth. Sophomore Evan Faxon scattered four hits in four innings while striking out five before turning the game ball over to junior Christian Julius. Julius (1-0) allowed one hit over his first four innings of relief, before exiting after a strong outing spanning 4 2/3 innings.
"I thought both of those guys did a really good job," stated Pettorini. "We still could've been better with the amount of strikes we threw. We walked too many guys, but Evan and Christian made quality pitches at the right time to keep Johns Hopkins off the board (until the ninth)."
The Blue Jays' Mike Eberle broke up the shutout bid with a two-out, two-run single in the ninth.
Wooster freshman Colin Springer bounced back after Eberle's single to get the final out, while earning his first collegiate save in the process.
Gail led the way at the plate with three of Wooster's season-high 10 hits, while Eberle had the three-hit game for Johns Hopkins.
Noteworthy, Friday's game featured a pair of skippers who have won well over 1,000 games at the collegiate level. Pettorini, the active leader in Div. III coaching wins, now has 1,216, while Johns Hopkins' Bob Babb has 1,146 career victories.
Wooster now has a four-game series winning streak against Johns Hopkins. The two teams are set to square off again on Saturday at noon at the Boston Red Sox's former Player Development Complex.