With its season on the line, the Hope College baseball team answered two large deficits to defeat Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion Adrian College swiftly and decisively.
The Flying Dutchmen swept their Senior Day visitors 11-9 and 17-12 Saturday at Boeve Stadium to remain in contention for a spot in next week's MIAA Tournament.
Hope (16-22 overall, 14-14 MIAA) is tied for fourth place with Calvin College in the league standings. The Flying Dutchmen and Knights lead Trine for the final playoff spot by two games. Trine concludes regular-season play today with a doubleheader against Albion.
Adrian and Alma College already have qualified. Second-place Kalamazoo is ineligible for postseason play this season, leaving two spots for Hope, Calvin and Trine to decide. A tiebreaker will be used, if necessary.
In Game 1, catcher Trace Slancik of Scotts, Michigan (Vicksburg HS) belted a two-out, two-run walkoff homer for Hope. He followed a game-tying, two-run homer by rightfielder Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) two batters earlier.
Slancik opened the scoring for the Flying Dutchmen with a two-run single in the first for a 2-0 lead.
Adrian answered with three runs in the second, fourth in the fourth and one in the fifth for an 8-2 lead.
The Flying Dutchmen scored twice in their half of the fifth and three times in the sixth. Opple's solo homer started the sixth-inning rally. Senior designated hitter Nick Lepore of Clinton Township, Michigan (Warren DeLaSalle) and senior first baseman Landon Brower of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) each delivered RBIs during the sixth.
In the seventh, shortstop Jordon Fairchild of Muskegon, Michigan (Oakridge) and senior third baseman Danny Carrasco of Grandville, Michigan (Calvin Christian) drew two-out walks before Opple's and Slancik's home runs, respectively.
Winning pitcher Matt Van Dyken of Zeeland, Michigan (East) scattered five hits and two runs of three innings of relief. Van Dyken (2-4) struck out three and walked one.
In Game 2, Hope overcame an 8-0 deficit after Adrian scored three times in the top of the first and five times in the third.
The Flying Dutchmen erupted for four runs in their half of the second and seven in the third.
During the second, second baseman Brant Kym of Libertyville, Illinois (Libertyville) delivered an RBI single, then was followed two batters later by Fairchild's two-run double.
The third-inning rally that led to an 11-9 lead started on a Slancik RBI double. Brower contributed a two-run single. Kym slugged a two-run homer to left. Fairchild blasted a two-run homer to center.
Opple homered for the third time on the day in the sixth. Leftfielder Jonathan Sojka of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Glenbard West) added an RBI single.
Brower capped a four-run seventh with a two-run single. Earlier in the inning, Carrasco hit an RBi double and Lepore had a run-scoring single.
Winning pitcher CJ Otteman of Zeeland, Michigan (East) scattered four hits and two runs over 3 ⅔ innings of relief. Otteman (2-2) struck out three and walked two.