by Alan Babbitt
Making his collegiate second start, freshman Shane Hykin pitched like a wily veteran again for the Hope College baseball team.
The right-hander from Ada, Michigan (Forest Hills Northern HS) tossed a complete-game shutout in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Kalamazoo College on Friday at Boeve Stadium.
Photo of Shane Hykin by Michael Wilson
Hope won, 8-0, then defeated the Hornets, 15-5, to complete the sweep in the series opener. The Flying Dutchmen extended their best start in school history to 17-1 overall and a first-place 9-1 in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play.
"He went out there and did his job," head coach Stu Fritz said. "He threw strikes and kept them off-balance. He didn't give away free bases. He's throwing very confidently right now."
Hope plays at Kalamazoo (4-11, 2-4 MIAA) on Saturday, April 6 for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
Hykin (2-0) scattered four hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out four. Kalamazoo did not advance a runner past second base.
Hykin lowered his earned run average to 1.69.
The Flying Dutchmen supported Hykin with eight hits, including a two-run double from center fielder Evan Maday of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood) in the third to break a scoreless tie.
Hope entered the day with NCAA Division III's ninth-highest team batting average at .343.
First baseman Ted Eppinga of Saline, Michigan (Saline) blasted a three-run homer in the fourth inning. It was his third home run of the season.
Third baseman Joey Merucci of Northville Township, Michigan (Detroit Catholic Central) knocked in a run with a sixth-inning fielder's choice. One batter later, left fielder Jack Sojka of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Glenbard West) blasted his first home run of the season — a two-run blast to left.
Kym put the Flying Dutchmen ahead, 1-0, in the first inning with a two-out RBI single.
Hope built a 6-0 lead after three innings of the scheduled nine-inning game. Fairchild's team-leading sixth home run of the season was a two-run shot to right.
In the fourth, Kym started a four-run rally to answer Kalamazoo's four-run top half of the inning with a two-run double.
Kym finished 4-for-4 with three runs batted in and two runs scored.
Merucci added two hits, including a two-run double.
Winning pitcher Sam Balke of Newaygo, Michigan (Forest Hills Central) tossed 5 ⅓ innings of one-run relief. Balke (2-0) struck out two while yielding six hits and three walks.