ROCKFORD, IL - The Bay Norse Baseball Team (4-10-1) split the second day of doubleheaders against the Rock Valley College Golden Eagles (12-3) on Saturday. Rock Valley would take the first game by a score of 10-2 and Bay would end the series with a 9-4 victory.
GAME 1 - ROCK VALLEY COLLEGE - 10, BAY COLLEGE - 2
The Golden Eagles would strike first, opening the second inning with three consecutive singles. Drew Behling (SO, Waupun, WI) singled to left to drive in a run and the home team would score again on a ground out. The Norse would get out of trouble with an unconventional double play. They would secure the second out of the inning after Bay catcher Flynn Morrison (FR, Melbourne, Australia) had to make a throw to first. Behling aggressively tried to score from second, but the return throw from first beat him home. Behling made two athletic dodges of the tag, and it ended up being a race to home as both Behling and Morrison dove towards the plate. In the end Morrison would get the tag on just before the run scored, ending the inning.
Bay would strike back in the fourth inning. Back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning by Oliver Dunn (FR, Melbourne, Australia) and Morrison would put the Norse on the board. Morrison would move to third and home on two consecutive groundball outs, tying the game.
Bay found more trouble in the fifth. A pair of lead off singles and a hit batsman would load the bases. Brett Swalve (FR, Lanark, IL) would make them pay, driving in two with a single to center. A sacrifice fly two batters later would give the home team a three-run lead.
The Norse would not be able to get much going offensively from that point on. Rock Valley would get a two-run homerun from Behling in the fifth, and score three more on two hits, three walks, and a hit batsman in the sixth. Bay would leave the bases loaded in the seventh, falling to Rock Valley for the third consecutive game.
Behling ended up with four RBI in his two for two performance. Carlos Arteaga (SO, Rockford, IL) went three for three, while Bill Blank (FR, Cary, IL) and David Mitchell (FR, Tower Lakes, IL) would each collect two hits. Matt Majer (FR, Elk Grove Village, IL) earned the win on the mound, giving up four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and striking out two.
The Norse would collect just four hits in the game. Justin Popelka (SO, Escanaba, MI) was tagged with the loss, giving up ten hits, seven runs, six earned, and no walks, while striking out four.
GAME 2 - BAY COLLEGE - 9, ROCK VALLEY - 4
A two-out, two-run error in the bottom of the first would make the Norse play from behind in game two. Bay would get one run back in the second, when Ben Schwalbach (SO, Gladstone, MI) would lead off the inning with a single and later score on a ground ball out.
The visitors would get their first lead of the game in the fourth. With two outs they would get a single, a runner reaching on an error, and draw a walk to load the bases. Mark Zhang (FR, Canberra, Australia) lined a single to right to send two runners to the plate. Bay would strand the bases loaded in that inning, and miss another opportunity in the fifth when they had two on and one out.
Rock Valley looked to be in business in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff double Brenden Alsup (SO, Rockford, IL) and sacrificing him to third. After an infield pop out, it looked like Bay would get out of the inning as the next batter would roll a routine groundball to third. The Norse would have a defensive miscue however, allowing the Golden Eagles to tie the game.
Bay responded in the sixth. Dunn led off with a double and would score on Morrison's line drive double to left. A walk and a single would load the bases, and Kyler Moir (FR, Hillman, MI) came through with a base hit to right, driving in two runs. A wild pitch, sacrifice fly, and an error would extend the inning, plating three more runs, giving the Norse a 9-3 lead. Rock Valley would manage to scratch across a run in the seventh, but the Norse would slam the door, taking the win in the series finale.
Tyler Skufca (SO, Escanaba, MI) earned the complete game victory, giving up six hits, four unearned runs, one walk, and four strikeouts in seven innings of work. Dunn was two of three with a run scored and two walks, while Zhang would go two for four with two RBI. Schwalbach also collected two hits in four at bats, scoring twice.
"This is a strong team, and we had to work really hard to get a win in this series," said Head Coach Mike Pankow. "We had some great starts, including yesterday when we had Connor Olson step up in a spot start situation and Kyler [Moir] gave us a chance to win. This team is learning that every at bat, every pitch, ever defensive chance matters, and are right on the cusp of putting together a string of wins."
The Norse will finish up their weekend in Oak Creek, Wisconsin where they will take on Milwaukee Area Technical College. That doubleheader is slated to start at 1 pm.