Baseball Hits 20-Win Mark With Team Effort At Cornerstone

Left-handed Keaton Hamilton delivers a pitch by Alan Babbitt

The comeback by the Hope College baseball team started with the usual contributors.

Some new ones completed the rally and propelled the Flying Dutchmen to a unprecedented 20-1 start to their season.

By design, 19 position players and four pitchers took the field during a 4-2 non-league victory at Cornerstone University on Tuesday.  Hope scored four answered runs after the Golden Eagles struck for two during the second inning.

"I don't think we could have scripted it any better," head coach Stu Fritz said after the scheduled nine-inning game. "We talk about needing all 32 players. We played every single healthy position player today. Everyone who played contributed. We got solid pitching. We didn't make an error.

"Give Cornerstone a lot of credit. I was impressed with the arms they put out there. It was a really good day for us."

Photo of pitcher Keaton Hamilton by Bailer Patterson/Cornerstone University

Winning pitcher Dane Martin (2-0) tossed two scoreless innings. The freshman from New Baltimore, Michigan (L'Anse Creuse North HS) and Hope's second pitcher allowed only one hit. He threw 17 strikes in 25 pitches thrown.

Closer CJ Otteman of Zeeland, Michigan (Zeeland East) recorded a save for the third consecutive game. He now has four saves on the season after retiring four of the five batters he faced.

Hope's defense helped Otteman by throwing out a runner at home plate for the final out of the eight.

The relay throw following a fly ball out went from left fielder Micah Holzwarth of Libertyville, Illinois (Libertyville) to third baseman Grant Barrett of Chelsea, Michigan (Chelsea) to catch Cal Barrett of Chelsea, Michigan (Chelsea).

In the ninth, Evan Becker of Rochester, Michigan (Stoney Creek) drew out a two-out walk and stole second base. After advancing to third on a single by Bradley Kotenko of Macomb, Michigan (Lutheran), Becker scored on a Cornerstone fielding error.

The Flying Dutchmen broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth on a RBI groundout by Tucker Fritz of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa). Jacob Ohren-Hoeft of Saline, Michigan (Saline), who walked to lead off the inning, scored from third.

Hope replaced its entire starting lineup after batting in the top of the fourth.

The Flying Dutchmen tied the score with solo home runs in the fourth by first baseman Ted Eppinga of Saline, Michigan (Saline) and second baseman Jordon Fairchild of Muskegon, Michigan (Oakridge).

It was Fairchild's MIAA-leading seventh homer of the season and Eppinga's fourth.

Fairchild is the 12th Hope player to homer at least seven times within a season. The school record of 11 is shared by BJ Maas (2003) and current Flying Dutchmen assistant coach Chad Ruby (1998).

Hope's next games are scheduled for Thursday, April 11 with 2 p.m. doubleheader at Alma College.

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