No. 15 Wooster Sweeps No. 9 Denison, Takes Over First-Place in NCAC

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WOOSTER, Ohio - On a day of celebration for legendary head coach Tim Pettorini, the 15th-ranked College of Wooster baseball team rallied back twice for a pair of exciting wins over ninth-ranked Denison University at Art Murray Field, and in doing so, the Fighting Scots took over possession of first-place in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Wooster surged past Denison 16-9 in game one and went on to post a 6-5 victory in the nightcap.

Wooster's (21-8, 11-1 NCAC) biggest individual nugget of the afternoon came in the fourth inning of game one. That's when senior Garrett Crum logged the 12th 20-game hitting streak in program history with his two-out double. The standout first baseman went on to tally five more hits in the sweep to up his average to .563 (49-for-87) during his 21-game run. The senior's knocked in 33 runs and has scored 26 times during his streak.

Prior to Crum's milestone knock, Wooster climbed out of a 5-0 deficit with a six-run third. Freshmen Ben Gbur and Tyler Chumita sparked the offense with back-to-back pokes through the right side, and the Scots went on to take the lead, 6-5, when senior Chandler Dippman scampered home on a wild pitch.

Three innings later, Wooster erupted for an eight-run sixth, which enabled the Scots to break the game wide open at 16-7. Junior Harry Witwer-Dukes powered the offense with a three-run round-tripper, and at that point, the Scots' third baseman was a single shy of the cycle. After Witwer-Dukes' dinger, Chumita and senior Jacob Stuursma logged RBI two-baggers, while Gbur's run on a passed ball was sandwiched in between. Junior Dan Harwood's RBI knock capped the scoring plays.

Senior Wyatt Linde earned the win to improve to 2-1. The southpaw fired a season-high 2 2/3 innings, during which he struck out two. Sophomore Jack Jones took over with one out in the eighth, stranded a pair of Big Red baserunners, and went on to work a scoreless ninth.

Danny Brackman (7-2) took the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Wooster didn't take the lead until the sixth inning in the nightcap, but a single-run cushion was all sophomore Evan Faxon (4-1) needed down the stretch. The Scots' left-hander scattered two hits and struck out four over his four innings of relief.

In the sixth, junior Aaron Spidell's sacrifice fly pulled Wooster within one at 5-4. Junior Nick Strausbaugh followed with a walk, and then Stuursma delivered the go-ahead, two-run two-bagger.

Wooster's defense secured the win down the stretch, starting with Witwer-Dukes' play at third. In the eighth, a hard-charging Witwer-Dukes laid out in time to snare Max Lahn's sacrifice bunt attempt, which he wound up popping up. The Big Red's misfortunes continued in the eighth, as junior Dan Gail threw out Anthony Ruggieri trying to steal second for the second out of the inning.

In the ninth, Wooster caught a big break when Ty Robinson was ruled out on appeal for leaving early while trying to head to second on Will Krushena's deep fly out. From there, Faxon took matters into his own hands, and got Brian McAuliffe to swing through a 1-2 offering for the final out of the game.

Mikey Rivera took the loss for Denison. He fell to 3-1 after allowing two runs on two hits in three innings of relief.

Three of Crum's doubleheader-high six hits were doubles, while he had three RBI and scored twice.

Naturally, Witwer-Dukes did get his single to complete the cycle, only it came during his first plate appearance in game two. While collecting a cycle on the day, Witwer-Dukes went 5-for-8 with a team-high four RBI and three runs scored.

Stuursma led all players on the day with four runs, and he was 5-for-9 in the twin bill with three RBI.

McAuliffe paced Denison's offense with four hits, two of which left the ballpark.

Prior to Saturday's doubleheader, Wooster's baseball program honored Pettorini, who will be retiring at the end of the season. Approximately 75 former Wooster greats joined the Scots' legend on the field prior to first pitch.

Next, Wooster's at the University of Mount Union (20-12) for a 4 p.m. game on Monday. Sunday's previously-scheduled game at Heidelberg University has been cancelled.