MARION, Ind. — Clinton Stroble II ripped three home runs Saturday and the Goshen College baseball team set a program record for runs scored against an NAIA school, outslugging Indiana Wesleyan University 23-11 in game two of a doubleheader after dropping the opener 9-6.
With the wind gusting straight out at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, Preston Carr went deep on the game's second pitch to give his team a 1-0 lead. Neither team scored again in the first two innings, giving the early impression of a pitcher's duel.
That impression would not last as the teams combined for 34 runs, the most in a regulation game in the Crossroads League this year.
The Maple Leafs (20-21-1, 9-11 Crossroads League) used three hits to stretch their lead to 3-0 in the third inning, culminating in a run-scoring single by Brad Stoltzfus and an RBI double off the bat of Vincent Caschera.
Indiana Wesleyan (21-24, 7-12) retaliated with back-to-back homers with one out in the bottom of the inning before adding an unearned run to tie the score at 3.
Ryan Hartig led off the fourth inning by reaching on an error, which was followed by a groundout and a flyout and gave IWU the impression that it should be out of the inning. Much like the pitcher's duel, however, the impression differed from reality.
Spenser Triplett was hit by a pitch to leave runners on the corners. After a passed ball scored Hartig to give the Maple Leafs a lead they would not relinquish, back-to-back doubles from Connor Clemens and Carr each knocked in runs and sent Wildcat starter David Corbin to the showers trailing 6-3.
Relief pitcher Zee Brytenbach did not immediately fare much better: first baseman Brad Stoltzfus parked his third pitch beyond the center field fence for an 8-3 Goshen lead.
Brady West doubled home a run in the bottom of the inning for IWU, but Goshen had more damage up its sleeve in the fifth. Stroble led off and went yard on the first pitch he saw before Hartig reached on another fielding error. He would score on a throwing error following a Quinlan Armstrong single, with Armstrong himself coming in on another error two batters later. All told, GC scored four times on three hits and four miscues in the stanza and led 12-4 at the game's midway point.
Tanner Killian's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, one batter after a dropped fly ball on the apparent third out, pulled the Wildcats back within 12-7 before Ryan Bixler drew a walk and precipitated a call to the bullpen. Colton Daniel struck out leadoff man Caleb Eder to end the inning.
Stroble added on with another leadoff homer in the sixth inning before Triplett kicked the extra point for a 14-7 lead with a one-out single that knocked in Armstrong. Stoltzfus led off the seventh with another line drive over the center-field wall, marking the third straight frame and fourth inning overall that GC started with a homer, and the Maple Leafs led 15-7 after six and a half.
Bixler's two-out, two-run blast breathed life back into the Wildcats in the bottom of the inning, although those hopes of a comeback and a series sweep were quelled slightly when neither team scored in the eighth inning.
The ninth inning, on the other hand, produced the most runs of any frame in a Goshen game this year.
Clemens started things off with his third hit of the game, a single up the middle, and moved up 90 feet when Carr was hit by a pitch. Stoltzfus advanced the runners to second and third with a groundout before Caschera singled to score Carr for a 16-9 lead.
Hartig added a two-run single two batters later; Armstrong reached base on IWU's sixth error of the day before Colby Malson knocked in a run with a single.
Two batters later, the bases were loaded again for Clemens' second at bat of the inning. The sophomore came inches from making his first career home run a big one, instead hitting the top of the outfield wall and trading his would-be grand slam for a three-run double.
The double gave Goshen 22 runs, which set a new school record for tallies against both Crossroads League and NAIA opponents. A 21-run outburst against Grace in 2008 had been the record; while GC has scored as many as 34 runs in a game, the higher totals came against NCCAA and NCAA Division III opponents.
Carr finished the scoring a batter later with a single to right that knocked in Clemens for his fourth run of the day. The Wildcats would score twice more in the bottom of the inning before Malson retired the last three men he faced.
The Maple Leafs finished the game with 21 hits and the day with 33, both season highs. Clemens led all players with four hits while Carr, Stoltzfus and Triplett each added three; Stoltzfus also reached base on a walk, his team-leading 29th of the season and 71st of his career, which ties him with Garrett Cannizzo for 10th-most in school history..
By starting the game, Carr broke Andy Swisher's program record with his 193rd game played; Caschera is three behind him and would pass Swisher next Wednesday against Taylor. Carr's 36 doubles are also the fifth-most by a Maple Leaf while he sits eighth with 161 career hits and fourth with 118 runs scored.
Clemens' four runs and four RBI were also game highs, the latter tying with Stoltzfus. Five Maple Leafs scored thrice. All nine starters had hits and played parts in at least two runs, either by scoring or driving in. The team combined to stroke nine extra-base hits, with four players racking up at least six total bases.
IWU finished with 13 hits, paced by three from Eder, and totaled five homers and a double. Seven Wildcats scored runs while Bixler led the team with three RBI.
Michael Walker, Goshen's pitcher of record, finished one out shy of recording his team-best fifth win. Colton Daniel instead got the victory after retiring seven batters in relief while Corbin took the loss.
The win gives Goshen its first 20-win season since 2005 and the seventh campaign with that many wins in program history, which dates to 1957. 2017 now marks the fourth straight season in which the Maple Leafs have improved their win total from the previous campaign, which is also a program record: the 2002, 2003 and 2004 teams raised their mark in three straight seasons.
Additionally, the victory was the 34th in conference play for head coach Alex Childers, breaking a tie with Brent Hoober for the third-most conference wins in the GC dugout, and the 60th win of any kind in Childers' coaching career.
Indiana Wesleyan claimed the first game after scoring five consecutive runs in the first three innings to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead. The Wildcats scored in five of their six offensive innings.
GC's six runs came in pairs in the first, fourth and seventh innings as the team lost despite out-hitting IWU by a 12-11 margin. Stroble went 4 for 4 with a homer, a double and three RBI to pace the offense.
Carr, who led off the first inning with a double and the seventh with a hit batter, scored in both cases, the lone Maple Leaf to do so. Caschera, Malson and Hartig added run-scoring hits.
Eder went 4 for 4 with three runs scored and four driven in for the hosts, while catcher Andrew Breytenbach added a homer and two singles in four at bats, driving in two.
Connor Cantrell got the win for IWU after allowing four runs on nine hits in five innings, while Kyle Hall threw two innings for the save.
With the doubleheader split, Goshen ends the weekend in sixth place in the Crossroads League. The Maple Leafs trail Mount Vernon Nazarene by two games for the fourth and final first-round host slot in the conference tournament.
Spring Arbor sits in fifth place, half a game ahead of Goshen, while Indiana Wesleyan and Bethel are tied for seventh, 1 1/2 games behind. GC has played one more game than all three schools; Spring Arbor and Bethel will return to level footing in that column after their makeup games Monday.
Goshen steps out of conference play Monday for a doubleheader with Lourdes University. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at J. Harold "Sarge" Yoder Field.