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Kenyon Owls clip Cadets by a combined 16-2 margin

VERO BEACH, Fla.– The Kenyon College baseball team showed up and showed out on a big stage when the team played a doubleheader against Norwich University at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. Taking a quick trip up north from the rest of their spring break slate, the Owls orchestrated a sweep of the twin bill at Holman Stadium, conquering the Cadets 5-2 in game one before a commanding 11-0 game-two win.

The wins boosted Kenyon’s record to 6-2, while Norwich fell to 0-9 after the sweep. If game one was good for the Owls, who had five runs on nine hits, game two was great. Kenyon scored 11 runs on 11 hits, and the Owls dominated both sides of the ball by allowing just two game-two hits in the second of two seven-inning games.

Edwin Groff had a huge day at the plate, hitting 4-for-5 with four RBIs, three runs, and two doubles. The junior got on base nearly every chance he had, reaching safely on five of six occasions after getting plunked twice and working a walk. Through eight games as Kenyon’s designated hitter, Groff is putting up gargantuan numbers. His whopping 1.464 OPS is driven by a .586 (17-29) batting average and a .828 slugging percentage, and he’s reached base 63.6 percent of the time. The preseason All-American also leads the team with nine runs, eight RBIs, and four doubles, and he is one of three Owls with a home run. 

Malcolm Gaynor also got going offensively, going 4-for-7 on the day with a run in each game and two RBIs in game two. After starting the season 3-for-16, a .188 average, the senior captain has been locked in of late, hitting .545 (6-11) with three straight two-hit games.

Kenyon was seeing the ball well early, scoring two runs on four hits in the first frame before following up with two runs on two hits in the second inning. In the first, Nate Rosen came around to score after a leadoff single, Gaynor singled and scored, and Luke Meister and Tripper Capps batted in runs. In the second, Groff had the big blow, a two-out, two-RBI double down the right field line.

Norwich broke through with a run in the bottom of the second after their third hit, but Theo Canning and the Owls got out of a jam thanks to a bit of baserunning blunder mixed with some luck on defense. Meister fielded a single on the right field line and fired over to third, looking to throw out a runner. The ball sailed over Capps’s outstretched arm, but the ball stayed in the park, and Ben Zimmerman was there to back up the play. The Norwich runner had rounded third and thought about heading home, but Zimmerman quickly relayed Meister’s throw to a covering Capps, who applied the tag for the final out.

Canning came up with two consecutive strikeouts to end the third inning after the Cadets brought the tying run to the plate. Kenyon’s offense rewarded the pitcher with another run in the ensuing half-inning. Zimmerman led off the fourth with a double before coming around to score on Drew Robinson’s RBI single.

Norwich added a run in the bottom of the sixth that forced a pitching change. Stephen Carr immediately welcomed Jack Enger by catching a runner stealing, and the first-year got out of the inning. The Cadets kept their comeback hopes alive with a single to lead off the seventh and a sacrifice bunt, but Enger shut the door with consecutive strikeouts for his third save this season. 

Canning collected his first win after 5.1 strong innings that included six punchouts and six hits. Zimmerman provided a spark in the No. 9 spot in the order, hitting 2-for-3 with two runs.

The Owls had an even better start to game two, putting up a four spot in the first frame. After Lewis Cropper had a 1-2-3 inning, Norwich helped Kenyon out by plunking Rosen and allowing Robinson to reach on an error, and the Owls capitalized on the Cadet mistakes with three straight hits. Gaynor hit an RBI single, Groff got an RBI double, and Niko Price made it 4-0 before the first out with an RBI base hit.

Cropper sat the Cadets down in order again before Kenyon added a run in the second when Gaynor batted Rosen in. After two more outs, Norwich finally got on base by working a walk and slapping a single. However, Cropper worked out of trouble, and the hit marked the only knock he allowed. 

The junior secured his second win to improve to 2-0. He allowed just four baserunners over 5.0 innings, striking out three, plunking two, walking one, and conceding the one hit. As a staff, Kenyon’s pitchers allowed just two hits in seven innings. Andrew Catron got an out in the sixth, and Noah Rosenberg was great in 1.2 innings, striking out two without allowing a runner to reach. Rosenberg inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the sixth, but the senior avoided trouble by serving up a double-play ball on his first pitch.

Offensively, Kenyon continued to pull away with three runs in each of the fourth and sixth innings. Groff, Price, and Gio Giuliani had consecutive fourth-inning hits, highlighted by Giuliani’s RBI double. Fellow first-year Tyler Nee kept it going with an RBI in the next at-bat, a sacrifice fly, as each player notched their first career RBI. Price, Giuliani, and Nee were great for the Owls, combining to hit 4-for-9 (.444) with five RBIs and three runs.

Nee came through again with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth, making it 9-0. Parker Gibbons put the icing on the cake a couple of at-bats later when he brought two runners around with a single in his first time up to bat. The hit was the junior’s second in as many at-bats this season, and his whopping five RBIs on two hits are tied for third on the team.

The Owls get right back at it with another doubleheader tomorrow, March 9, when they are back at the Lawnwood Baseball Complex, where Kenyon will take on Lasell University at 2 p.m.

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