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March 22, 2016

Wolverines open spring trip with sweep of Martin Luther

AUBURNDALE, Fla. -- The Grove City College baseball team continued its best start since 2007 by opening their spring training trip with a pair of victories over Martin Luther (Minn.) on Monday afternoon at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex. The Wolverines earned a 3-2 walkoff victory in the first game before pulling away for a 5-1 win in the nightcap.

In the opener, the Knights (2-6) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and held that lead throughout the game, eventually adding another run in the top of the seventh to lead 2-0. Grove City (9-3) would rally in their final trip to the plate, as freshman Micah Burke third baseman (Gilbert, Ariz./E.V.A.C.) single and advanced to second on an error and senior designated hitter Travis Royer (Forest, Va./Twin Valley (Pa.)) added a single to lead off the inning and give the Wolverines runners on the corners. Freshman left fielder Shane Hammel (Fort Collins, Colo./Fossil Ridge) reached on a fielder's choice that scored Burke to cut the Martin Luther lead to 2-1, and sophomore second baseman Cameron Smail (Apollo, Pa./Kiski Area) singled Hammel to third, advancing to second on the throw.

Senior pitcher Ryan Gallagher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) pinch ran for Smail as sophomore center fielder Tyler Graham (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) stepped to the plate, and Graham put a ball into right field that allowed both Hammel and Gallagher to score and gave Grove City the 3-2 walkoff win.

Junior Ben Finlan (State College, Pa./State College) earned the complete-game victory on the mound for the Wolverines, allowing just six hits and two runs over seven innings of action while striking out four and walking a pair. Burke, Royer and junior Nolan Myers (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) each collected two of Grove City's nine team hits.

In game two, it was Martin Luther who scored first once again, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth by taking advantage of a Wolverine error and a wild pitch. Grove City would answer right away, plating a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead.

Sophomore shortstop Drew Landis (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) started the inning with a single and moved to third on a Hammel double, and both men would score on consecutive fielder's choices.

The Wolverines would add some insurance in the top of the seventh inning. Hammel and junior second baseman Brandon Gresh (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) opened the inning with consecutive singles. Gresh would advance as Hammel was thrown out attempting to steal third, and freshman Travis Auth (Medina, Ohio/Medina), pinch running for Gresh, was thrown out at third as Myers reached on a fielder's choice. A Graham walk gave the Wolverines runners on first and second, and a single by junior first baseman Matt Waugaman (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) moved Grahamn to third and brought Myers home to extend Grove City's lead to 3-1.

Graham would push the Wolverine advantage to 4-1 on a double steal with Waugaman, and junior catcher Andy Fritz (Saxonburg, Pa./Knoch) would close the Grove City scoring by doubling Waugaman home to make it a 5-1 game.

Junior Cedric Hils (West Homestead, Pa./Central Catholic) earned his first collegiate victory on the mound, allowing just two hits and one unearned run over four and one-third innings of work while striking out four. Gallagher earned the save for Grove City after throwing two and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief, yielding just one hit while striking out one during that time.

At 9-3, Grove City is off to its best start since the 2007 team won 10 of its first 12 games.

Grove City returns to action today at 3 p.m. against Fontbonne (Mo.) at the Chain O' Lakes Complex in Winter Haven, Fla.

Game One Box Score    Game Two Box Score

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