Bluffton out-hits HCAC co-leader Franklin, wins first HCAC gameMarch 25, 2002
The Bluffton College baseball team erupted for 33 hits in a three-game series at Heartland Conference foe Franklin College last weekend in the Beavers' first league games of the season. All three games were decided by just one run, with BC winning the first game 7-6, but falling by 5-4 final scores in the last two games.
Bluffton collected 12 more hits in the series than the Grizzlies, who were voted #1 in the league's pre-season coaches' poll along with Anderson University. BC now occupies the fifth spot in the HCAC standings with a 1-2 league mark and a 3-11 record overall.
This week's weather could decide the fate of a non-conference game at Capital University on Tuesday and a three-game HCAC series at home against Mount St. Joseph on Thursday and Friday.
Senior Brad Buckingham and Todd Pickthorn both continue to climb on the Bluffton career hits list. Buckingham's 13 hits so far this season give him 134 for his career, which ties Eric Metz '00 for third-most all-time, while Pickthorn's 20 hits this season give him 130 for his career, which ranks fifth all-time.
Bluffton jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first game at Franklin on Saturday, then held off a furious Franklin rally to hold on for a 7-6 win. Sophomore Kyle Alberson nearly hit for the cycle in the game, collecting a two-run homerun, an RBI triple, a walk and finally an RBI double. His four RBIs in the game were the most by a BC player this season.
Sophomore Bob Heitkamp pitched all seven innings for his first win of the season. He struck out four hitters and walked just two. Buckingham and Pickthorn both notched a single and a double in the game, while junior Wes Hall blasted a two-run homer.
In the second game, BC led 3-1 after four innings but saw the Grizzlies take a 4-3 lead after six innings. Pickthorn drove in sophomore Jim Dwenger with an RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, but Franklin came up with a two-out run in the bottom of the seventh inning to steal the win.
Hall pitched the first six innings for Bluffton and scattered eight hits, while Pickthorn and Heitkamp led the offense with three hits each including a triple for both. Alberson and Dwenger both smacked two hits each.
In the final game of the series, Franklin jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning but had to hold off a strong Bluffton comeback to preserve a 5-4 win. Buckingham, Dwenger, Pickthorn and senior Ben Schwab all produced two hits each for the Beavers. Sophomore Josh Underwood pitched the first six innings before giving way to sophomore Ryan Whitaker, who worked the final two frames without giving up a run.
Dwenger leads the squad in batting average (.414) and on base percentage (.500), while Pickthorn is hitting .392 with a team-best .490 slugging percentage. Buckingham is hitting .333 with a team-high seven RBIs, while Alberson is hitting at a .325 clip.
Special to: The Bluffton News, The Witmarsum