Pitcher Eric Plaehn and the Hope College baseball team opened the season with a pair of strong performances on the mound and at the plate.
The Flying Dutchmen swept Blackburn, Illinois 2-0 and 8-4 on Friday during a nonleague doubleheader at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Plaehn tossed a four-hit shutout in Game 1. The senior lefty from Lansing, Michigan (Catholic Central HS) struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Hope supported Plaehn with a run apiece in the third and fourth innings.
Designated hitter Nicholas Lepore of Clinton Township, Michigan (Warren De La Salle) scored in the fourth on fielder's choice off the bat of centerfielder Ben De Ritter of Jenison, Michigan (Jenison).
In the second game, Hope snapped a 4-4 tie with a three-run fifth.
Sophomore Tanner Gilmore of Murrieta, California (Alta Loma) smacked a two-run double to plate leftfielder JP Batts of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake) and third baseman Danny Carrasco of Grandville, Michigan (Calvin Christian).
Freshman catcher Trace Slancik of Scotts, Michigan (Vicksburg) drove in Gilmore.
Relief pitcher Nicholas Holt of Muskegon, Michigan (Catholic Central) tossed three innings of scoreless relief for the win. He allowed two hits and two walks while striking out two.
Junior Connor Grimes of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven) pitched the final 1 ⅓ innings for the save.
Hope returns to action on Friday, March 17 with a doubleheader against Clarkson in Winter Haven, Florida.