Starting Pitching On Point for No. 6 Wooster During 3-2 Week in Florida

Alec Hammond
Alec Hammond
Jacob Stuursma
Jacob Stuursma

The College of Wooster baseball team, which climbed from 14th to sixth in the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-25 poll since last playing, saw its starting pitchers log a tidy 1.69 ERA over 32 innings of work on the first week of the Fighting Scots' annual two-week stay in the Sunshine State, while the Black and Gold busted out the big bats with a 10-run first inning during Thursday's 14-4 win over Alfred State University. Overall, Wooster went 3-2 on the week in Florida.

Senior Nanak Saran toed the rubber twice and struck out a team-high 12 batters during his 13 innings of work. While Saran didn't get the win in Monday's trip-opener against Mid-Atlantic Region power Keystone College, the right-hander struck out seven in six innings of work before the offense picked up the ace with 11 unanswered runs over the final three innings of an eventual 11-3 win.

Saran was the tough-luck loser during Saturday's 1-0 setback against Haverford College. The senior allowed a third-inning home run to Ben Furlong that held up as the game's long run. While the Scots (4-2) outhit the Fords 6-5, Wooster left nine men stranded on the bases, including three in the fifth inning.

On Monday, junior Jacob Stuursma sparked the Scots' first rally of the Florida trip with a RBI double that plated Wooster's first run in the seventh inning of the Keystone contest. In fact, the Scots' top three hitters – Stuursma, senior Jake Fling, and junior Michael Wielansky – all logged RBI base knocks in the seventh inning against Keystone to tie the game.

Four Knight errors over the last three innings helped the Scots put the game out of reach.

On Tuesday, junior right-hander Brian Murray logged six one-two-three innings, and scattered one run on four hits before being lifted after 7 1/3 innings of brilliancy. Unfortunately, Wooster's usually potent lineup was held to five hits, and Susquehanna University plated two runs in the ninth to take the game 3-1.

Wooster bounced back with a 5-1 win over Kean University on Wednesday. Fling and Wielansky scorched back-to-back RBI two-baggers in the top of the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie. Two innings later, junior Garrett Crum tacked on two insurance runs with a two-run bloop single.

Junior Chandler Dippman held Kean to one run in 6 1/3 innings while scattering seven hits. Senior Ethan Myers, who made his Wooster pitching debut, allowed one hit in two innings of relief to nail down the save.

Wooster brought the sticks to the park on Thursday as the Scots pounded out 10 hits to pair with the 10 runs in the first inning – all of which came before two men were out. Fling delivered the first multi-run base knock of the frame on his second double of the inning. Stuursma followed with a two-run three-bagger, also his second hit of the inning.

Later in the game, sophomore Dan Harwood blasted a two-run round tripper for his team-leading third homer of the spring to make it 14-1.

Senior Alec Hammond was sharp in his season debut. The left-hander picked up the win, and allowed one run on three hits in five innings of work before turning the game ball over to a quartet of relievers.

During Saturday's game, Wielansky legged out his 12th career triple and now sits one three-bagger behind W Association Hall of Famer Jake Frank's Wooster record. On Thursday, the slick-fielding shortstop climbed into the top 10 on the program's career assists list.

Fling led Wooster on the week with a .348 (8-for-23) average. The senior, who split time between the top two spots in the lineup, also scored a co-team-best five runs.

Stuursma, who like Fling, shifted between the top two spots in the order, went 7-for-21 over the five-game stretch with five runs scored and a team-high six RBI.

Wooster opens the second half of its trip with a non-league game against Denison University (5-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.