Baseball Rallies For Road Split In Series Opener Vs. Albion

by Alan Babbitt

CJ Otteman slammed the door on a second comeback attempt against the 20th-ranked Hope College baseball team.

The Flying Dutchmen closer entered Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader at Albion College in the bottom of the ninth inning with nobody out and runners on second and third and Hope holding a precarious three-run lead.

Otteman retired all batters he faced, including two on strikeouts, to preserve an 8-6 victory. Hope (27-5, 17-5 MIAA) rebounded after a four-run sixth from the third-place Britons in Game 1 sent the Flying Dutchmen to a 7-5 defeat.

The four-game series concludes on Friday, April 26 with a 2 p.m. doubleheader at Boeve Stadium.

Hope jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 and never trailed.

Right fielder Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) and shortstop Brant Kym opened the scoring with back-to-back RBI singles.

After Albion cut the Flying Dutchmen lead to 3-2 in the second, Hope pushed across two more on a RBI double from first baseman Ted Eppinga of Saline, Michigan (Saline) and a sacrifice fly from third baseman Joey Merucci of Northville Township, Michigan (Detroit Catholic Central).

Designated hitter Nick Lepore hit his first home run of the season in the seventh — a solo blast.

In the ninth, Hope extended its lead to 8-3 when Opple blasted a RBI triple to right-center and scored on a sacrifice by Andrew Gilpin of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton).

After squashing Albion's rally, Otteman earned his fifth save of the season and the 11th of his career (third most by a Hope pitcher).

Winning pitcher and starter Shane Hykin of Ada, Michigan (Forest Hills Northern) allowed seven hits and three runs over six innings.

In Game 1, Hope could not hold a 5-3 lead after scoring three times in the top of the sixth on a bases-loaded Eppinga walk, a Kym run scored during a double play and a RBI single by left fielder Jack Sojka of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Glenbard West).

Albion (18-14, 13-9 MIAA) rallied two a two-run double and a two-run singles in the bottom half of the inning.

Fairchild and Kym each collected three hits for the Flying Dutchmen.