Ricci Goes Yard As Thunder Take First Games of Olivet Series

Ricci Goes Yard As Thunder Take First Games of Olivet Series

ANGOLA, IND.  --  Sophomore Nick Ricci (Hebron, Ind./Crown Point) hit his team-leading second home run of the season as the Trine University baseball team won both games to begin its Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association series against Olivet, (Mich.) College, 6-2 and 4-3, at Jannen Field in Angola, Ind.

Ricci finished the day a combined two-of-six at the plate with his home run to go along with three runs scored and two RBI.  Senior Colton Conn (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill) led the team in overall hits with five in seven total at-bats and also scored a run in addition to driving in a run.  Senior Kevin O'Malley (Commerce Twp., Mich./Walled Lake Central) went a perfect three-for-three in game one and finished three-of-six overall with a pair of runs scored and RBI.  

Junior Cale Hall (Orleans, Ind./Orleans) and freshman A.J. Willis (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington North) both had a pair of hits in game one.  Hall finished an overall two-of-six at the plate for the day and drove in a run, while Willis went two-of-four overall with two runs scored and two RBI.

Senior pitcher Ben Wheaton (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett Catholic Central) got the win in game one after going six innings and had six strikeouts.  His brother, freshman Adam Wheaton (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett Catholic Prep), claimed the victory in the second game, pitching seven complete innings and tallied nine strikeouts.

In game one, Trine (12-14, 6-8 MIAA) took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the second inning when the Thunder scored twice thanks to Ricci's two-run home run.  Olivet (6-18, 2-12 MIAA) plated two runs of its own in the top of the fourth, but the Thunder responded with four straight scores, beginning with a run in the bottom of the fourth that came on a RBI-single by Hall to regain the lead for Trine, 3-2.

Trine then scored two more runs in the fifth on a two-run single by Willis that increased the margin to 5-2.  The final run of the game came in the Trine bottom of the sixth as a the result of a bases loaded single by O'Malley as the Thunder went on to the 6-2 final.

Trine put up 10 hits in the game, led by O'Malley's three-of-three performance that included two runs scored and a RBI.  Conn, Hall, and Willis all finished two-of-three.  Conn also added a run scored, Hall scored a RBI and Willis scored a run and two RBI.

Ben Wheaton recorded his second win of the season (2-3 overall) allowing two runs on nine hits to go along with six strikeouts.  Sophomore Caleb Deiter (Whiteland, Ind./Whiteland Community) pitched the final inning in relief and gave up no runs or hits and had one strikeout.

Olivet grabbed the lead in game two with a run in the top of the third inning as the result of a lead-off triple.  The Comets added another run in the fifth on a run-scoring base hit and made it a 2-0 lead.  Trine then tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on a RBI-ground out by sophomore Jacob Douglass (Frankfort, Ind./Western) and a single up the middle by Conn to even the score at 2-2.

The Thunder took the lead in the sixth and then added another run in the seventh as part of a 4-0 run by the home team.  O'Malley brought the Trine run home in the sixth on a sacrifice fly and Conn recorded his second RBI in the game on a triple in the seventh inning that scored Willis.

Olivet got a run back in the top of the ninth and would have runners at first and second base following the run, but with two outs on the board.  Deiter then got the final out of the game on an ensuing strikeout to give Trine the 4-3 win and open the four-game series with a pair of victories.

Despite being outhit by Olivet, 11-5, Trine made the most of its offensive opportunities and was led at the plate by Conn who recorded three of those hits and was three-of-four overall with two RBI.  Ricci finished one-of-two in addition to a run scored and junior Jacob Heller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Prairie Heights) was one-of-four and scored a run.

Adam Wheaton also got his second win of the season (2-3 overall) and pitched seven innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits and struck out nine batters.  Freshman Kyle Robinson (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point) pitched an inning of relief and allowed just a hit, while striking out a pair of batters.  Deiter claimed his team-leading third save of the season pitching the final inning and gave up a run on three hits and had a strikeout.

Trine and Olivet are scheduled to play the final doubleheader of the series tomorrow (Saturday, Apr. 14) at the Cutler Athletic Complex in Olivet, Mich.  The first game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.