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Owls win NCAC opener, split doubleheader with OWU

GAMBIER, Ohio — The Kenyon College baseball team hosted its first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) games of the season on Sunday, welcoming Ohio Wesleyan University to McCloskey Field for a doubleheader. The Owls cruised to a 12-1 victory in seven innings in game one, but unearned runs helped the Battling Bishops bounce back as Kenyon settled for splitting the twin bill.

Kenyon benefitted from a near-perfect storm of offensive and pitching production in the front end of the doubleheader, and the result was a complete win that ended early due to run rule. Theo Canning compiled his best start of the season, producing season-highs of six innings pitched and 10 strikeouts for his second win this year. 

The first-year carved up the Battling Bishops and needed just 4.2 innings to rack up his double-digit strikeouts. Canning allowed just five baserunners, giving up three hits, issuing one walk, and hitting one batter. However, two of those hits and one walk came in the top of the seventh, when he was pulled after facing four batters without recording an out. From there, Noah Rosenberg came in to clinch the game, notching a strikeout and inducing a game-ending, bases loaded, double play.

On the other side of the ledger, the Owls’ offense scored 12 runs, 10 earned, on eight hits. Kenyon got on the board with a pair of RBI groundouts in the fourth from Edwin Groff and Tripper Capps. The momentum carried into the next two innings as the Owls added three in the fifth before putting up a crooked seven spot in the sixth. Drew Robinson hit an RBI double to get Kenyon going in the sixth before a sacrifice fly from Malcolm Gaynor, and Robinson later scored on a wild pitch.

In the sixth inning, Kenyon’s seven runs came from four hits and two OWU errors. Capps scored on an error, Stephen Carr, Nate Rosen, and Kyle Dwyer batted runners in, Groff earned an RBI hit-by-pitch, and both Robinson and Carr scored on wild pitches.

Overall, Dwyer (2-2) and Rosen (2-4) led the Owls in hits, Groff notched a game-high two RBIs, and Robinson scored a game-best three runs. 

Game two was a little more conventional for the Kenyon offense as they scored all their runs on hits, racking up 10 knocks in the second contest. However, the Owls only managed to turn their hits into five runs, and Ohio Wesleyan benefitted from four unearned runs thanks to four Kenyon errors. 

The Battling Bishops’ first four runs were all of the unearned variety, contributing to their four-run win. Lewis Cropper battled through a frustrating five-inning outing that saw him give up five runs, one earned, on just four hits. The sophomore struck out three, walked two, and hit one.

Three more runs went against Rosenberg, including two on a base hit given up by Andrew Catron. Catron came on in relief and immediately went ahead in the count 0-2, but a bloop two-out single scored two. After that, the first-year pitched a scoreless inning, and Dillon Cleary gave up a solo home run amidst three quick outs in the ninth.

The visitors took an early edge with an unearned run in the second inning, but Groff picked his pitcher up with a long solo home run, his first this season, in the bottom of the frame. OWU added three in the third before a one-run blast in the fifth put them ahead 5-1.

The round-trippers kept coming as Robinson answered with his team-leading second homer this season in the bottom of the inning, but two more runs in the seventh saw the Battling Bishops take an 8-2 lead. 

The Owls began a late rally as Groff and Capps notched RBIs in the eighth before another solo dinger from Ohio Wesleyan in the ninth. However, Ben Zimmerman kept Kenyon’s hopes alive with a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth. Gaynor hit a two-out RBI double to cut the deficit to 9-5, but that was as close as the Owls could come as they settled for the doubleheader split.

Robinson, Gaynor, and Groff, Kenyon’s 2, 3, and 4 hitters, each went 2-5 to lead the team. Groff notched two more RBIs to finish with four on the day, while Robinson scored twice more to bring his two-game total to five.

Next, the Owls welcome The College of Wooster (7-10, 2-0 NCAC) to Gambier for an NCAC doubleheader on Tuesday, April 4. The first pitch of the twin bill is scheduled for noon on McCloskey Field.

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