Mason Opple proved to be a tough out Thursday at Boeve Stadium at an important time for the Hope College baseball team.
The sophomore rightfielder from Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) delivered in both of the Flying Dutchmen's 6-5 and 6-2 wins against visiting Alma College in a matchup of third-place teams in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Hope (10-14 overall, 8-6 MIAA) moved within a game of second-place Calvin College, while Alma (13-13, 6-8 MIAA) fell back to fifth place. The two teams are scheduled to complete their series at Alma on Saturday.
In Game 1, Opple doubled home shortstop Jordon Fairchild of Muskegon, Michigan (Oakridge HS) with the tying run in the bottom of the sixth, then scored the go-ahead run on a single by third baseman Danny Carrasco of Grandville, Michigan (Calvin Christian).
The Flying Dutchmen answered after a three-run rally in the top half of the inning put Alma ahead 5-4.
Reliever C.J. Otteman of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East) ended the Scots' threat by getting two outs with the bases load on two pitches. Otteman retired Alma in order in the seventh for the win.
In Game 2, Opple went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and a walk.
Opple singled home centerfielder Evan Maday of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood) in the first inning with a single.
In the fifth, Opple doubled home Maday and second baseman Brant Kym of Libertyville, Michigan (Libertyville).
In the seventh, Opple doubled in Kym and scored on Carrasco's single to push Hope's lead to 5-2.
Reliever Sam Balke of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Forest Hills Eastern) earned the win with 1 ⅔ innings of one-run work.
Otteman pitched 2 ⅔ innings of scoreless relief for his second save of the season.