Top-Ranked Wooster Caps First Week in Florida with Pair of Wins Over Ninth-Ranked Johns Hopkins

Brian Murray
Brian Murray
Jacob Stuursma
Jacob Stuursma

The top-ranked College of Wooster baseball team won a pair of games over ninth-ranked Johns Hopkins University to wrap up week one of its two-week spring trip to Florida with a 4-1 ledger.

Wooster's seven-run second inning in a 13-7 win over Johns Hopkins (9-3) on Saturday was truly remarkable, as all the damage came with two outs. Junior Harry Witwer-Dukes slapped the first of eight consecutive hits by the Scots into left field, and he scored two batters later when classmate Aaron Spidell legged out an infield single. At that point, Wooster turned over the lineup with seniors Jacob Stuursma and Chandler Dippman ripping back-to-back singles to make it a 3-0 game.

The Scots' three-through-five hitters made a lot of noise in the inning with junior Dan Harwood smoking an RBI double to left, senior Garrett Crum poking a well-placed RBI single into left, and junior Dan Gail hustling out a run-scoring opposite-field three-bagger, which capped the scoring plays.

One run and two hits were the only blemishes on Dippman's (1-1) pitching line through the first four innings on Saturday, but James Ingram's three-run shot off of the senior pulled Johns Hopkins within one at 8-7 in the six.

In the seventh, Spidell and junior Nick Strausbaugh keyed a two-run rally. Spidell's two-out, two-bagger plated the Scots' center fielder, while Wooster's right fielder sprinted home on Stuursma's two-out base knock.

Wooster finished Saturday's game with a season-high 20 hits, four of which came from Stuursma out of the leadoff spot.

On Friday, Wooster jumped on Johns Hopkins starter Preston Betz early, and held off a ninth-inning rally by the Blue Jays to win 5-2 at historic Terry Park in Fort Myers.

Wooster, which benefitted from five Johns Hopkins errors, struck first when Stuursma scored on Dippman's single and subsequent miscue by right fielder Austin Sacks.

In the second inning, Stuursma continued to generate offense out of the leadoff spot with a two-out, two-run double that upped Wooster's lead to 3-0. Witwer-Dukes started that rally with a one-out single, while senior Harrison Walls followed suit with a base knock of his own. However, Walls was erased on the bases when Spidell reached on a fielder's choice.

Wooster's final two Friday runs came in the fifth inning. Crum smashed a one-out single up the middle, and came home to score on Witwer-Dukes' sacrifice fly. Gail trotted across later in the inning, thanks to a boot by Blue Jays' third baseman Matt Ritchie.

Johns Hopkins, which carried a seven run per-game average and an eight-game winning streak into Friday's contest, was kept in check offensively until the ninth. Sophomore Evan Faxon scatted four hits in four innings while striking out five before turning the game ball over to junior Christian Julius. Julius (1-0) allowed one hit over his first four innings of relief, before exiting after a strong outing spanning 4 2/3 innings.

Wooster played three games against teams in the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association top-10, as the Scots' season lid-lifter came against fifth-ranked Swarthmore College (7-3), which won 13-6 on Monday.

The Garnet capitalize on the Scots' wildness on the bump in the seventh and eighth innings, during which 11 runs trotted across. Wooster issued eight walks and had a pair of fielding miscues between the two innings, while Cole Beeker laced a two-run base knock in the seventh and drove in two more in the eighth.

A day later, Wooster scored five runs of its own during its seventh trip to the dish, and in doing so, took command during a 6-2 win over Bridgewater State University (2-5).

The two teams were deadlocked at one at stretch time before Stuursma plated the go-ahead run with a one-out single.

While walks ultimately proved to be one of Wooster's downfalls on Monday, the Scots were the beneficiary of wildness on the bump on Tuesday. Harwood upped the lead to 3-1 when he drew a bases-loaded base on balls in the seventh, and Crum uncorked a three-run double into left field.

Senior Brian Murray (1-0) was phenomenal against the Bears. The right-hander allowed one unearned run on five hits in seven innings while striking out six.

Wooster won again by a 6-2 count on Wednesday, this time to Haverford College (6-3), which dealt the Scots a 1-0 setback a year ago.

Led by sophomore Andrew Hill (1-0), Wooster's pitching staff didn't allow an extra base hit and struck out 12, while offensively, a combination of small-ball execution and big hits powered the Scots.

Stuursma was the catalyst behind the small-ball execution with a second-inning sacrifice fly and an eighth-inning squeeze bunt. In fact, Stuursma drove in three for the game, with Spidell scoring on the senior's third-inning three-bagger.

Hill's outing consisted of 5 1/3 innings of two-hit baseball, during which he allowed one unearned run and struck out eight. Five relivers combined to close out Haverford, including freshman Colin Springer, who struck out two in the ninth inning.

Stuursma's senior season started to the tune of a .417/.400/.542 slash line. The Scots' shortstop went 10-for-24 on the week with 10 RBI, three runs scored, two extra base hits, and was perfect in 26 chances in the field.

Gail (9-for-21) and Dippman (6-for-15) both hit at least .400 on the week, while Crum's five RBI ranked second on the team.

Spidell scored a team-high six runs over the five-game stretch.

Senior Wyatt Linde anchored the bullpen. The southpaw made four appearances, and allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings.

Noteworthy, Friday and Saturday's contests featured a pair of skippers who have won well over 1,100 games at the collegiate level. Wooster's Tim Pettorini, the active leader in Div. III coaching wins, now has 1,217, while Johns Hopkins' Bob Babb has 1,146. Wooster now also has a five-game series winning streak against Johns Hopkins.

Wooster's second week in Florida starts with an 11 a.m. tilt against Eastern Connecticut State University (2-4) on Sunday.