Baseball Stays On Tear Offensively, Sweeps Olivet On The Road

Mason Opple readies to take a swing at the plate by Alan Babbitt

There is little fooling Mason Opple and the Hope College baseball team at the plate right now.

Opple and the Flying Dutchmen continued their season-long offensive tear on Monday during a 10-3 and 18-10 sweep at Olivet College.

Hope (15-1 overall) hammered out 28 hits, including a season-high 17 during the nightcap. The Flying Dutchmen now have recorded double-digit hits in six consecutive games and 12 of 16 this season.

Photo of Mason Opple by Michael Wilson

As a team, Hope is hitting .343. The Flying Dutchmen entered Monday ranked 12th in NCAA Division III in team batting average.

"We just keep going it from top to bottom," head coach Stu Fritz said after his team improved to 7-1 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association standings. "Offensively, we've got a lot of confidence right now. We know how quickly that can turn. I'm just really proud of how we're getting it done offensively right now."

In Game 1, right fielder Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) led Hope's 11-hit attack. He came within a single of a cycle, going 3-for-4 with a career-high five runs batted in and two runs scored.

Opple, who was named MIAA Position Player of the Week earlier in the day, hit a two-run double to start a four-run first inning. He added a three-run homer during the second and a two-out triple in the fourth.

Catcher Trace Slancik of Scotts, Michigan (Vicksburg) and designated hitter Nick Lepore of Clinton Township, Michigan (Warren De La Salle) added RBI singles. Seven of Hope's nine starters had at least one hit.

Winning pitcher Sean Hoey (2-0) scattered three runs and two hits over 6 ⅔ innings. The sophomore right-hander struck out seven and walked five.

In Game 2, Hope jumped ahead 8-0 after two innings and 15-0 after five. All nine Flying Dutchmen starters collected at least one hit.

Second baseman Jordon Fairchild of Muskegon, Michigan (Oakridge) homered for the MIAA-leading fifth time this season.

First baseman Andrew Gilpin of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton) delivered three hits with a career-high three runs batted in.

Lepore finished 2-for-2 with a career-high four runs batted in. He also walked twice.

Opple, who's hitting .422, went 2-for-6 with three runs scored and two runs batted in.

Opple leads the MIAA with 24 runs batted in.

Slancik and center fielder Evan Maday of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood) each contributed two hits against Olivet (3-16, 1-7 MIAA).

Reliever Dylan Berghorst of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) earned the decision with two scoreless innings. Berghorst (2-0) followed starter Max Gaishin after the MIAA Pitcher of the Week tossed four scoreless innings.

Hope's next games are Friday, April 5 when the Flying Dutchmen are scheduled to host Kalamazoo for a 2 p.m. doubleheader at Boeve Stadium that begins a four-game weekend series. | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422