Early deficits too much for Trailblazers to overcome in Conference doubleheader


VINCENNES, Ind. – The Vincennes University baseball team closed out their Mid-West Athletic Conference (MWAC) weekend series with John Wood Community College Sunday afternoon at Jerry Blemker Field and while playing behind for most of the day, were able to battle back late in both games.

Unfortunately for the host Trailblazers, the late comebacks were not enough as John Wood took game one of the day 13-12 before closing out the series in game two 8-7.

Vincennes had an uphill battle from the beginning Sunday afternoon, with John Wood opening game one of the day with a run in the first, four runs in the second and a run in the third to take an early 6-0 lead.

VU would get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third after back-to-back singles by sophomore Carter Whitehead (Huntingburg, Ind.) and freshman Reed Drabant (Columbia, Ill.), freshman Bradyn Douglas (Frankton, Ind.) gave us a glimpse of things to come with a big two-RBI single to cut the deficit to 6-2.

John Wood answered back in the fourth with three runs before the Trailblazers would get a run back in the fifth on another RBI single by Bradyn Douglas.

The visiting Blazers would increase their lead again late in the seventh inning with three runs to take what should have been a commanding 12-3 advantage.

VU had other plans, as Vincennes stepped to bat and got the late rally started with eight of the first nine batters in the inning reaching base safely.

Sophomore Kade Hinton (Fort Wayne, Ind.) led off the inning with a double, followed by back-to-back walks by Whitehead and Drabant and a bases loaded walk for Bradyn Douglas.

Sophomore Blake Heyerly (Monroe, Ind.) plated a pair with a two-RBI single before freshman Bryce Gross (Bridgeport, Ind.) scored two more with a two-RBI double to make it a 12-8 game.

Carter Whitehead drew his second walk of the inning and third walk of the game before Reed Drabant drove in a run after being hit by a pitch.

Bradyn Douglas came through at the dish as he did all game, tying the game with a two-RBI single, giving him three RBIs in the seventh inning alone and doubling his previous career-high with six RBIs in the game.

Vincennes battled all the way back to even the game at 12-12 and send the game into extra innings, where John Wood broke the tie with a run in the eighth.

VU looked to walk it off in the bottom half of the inning but were unable to get the potential winning run to the plate as John Wood escaped game one of the day with a 13-12 victory over the Blazers.

Sophomore Max Lines (Indianapolis, Ind.) got the start in game one of the day for the Trailblazers, throwing three plus innings, allowing eight runs on six hits and striking out one.

Sophomore Josh McCormick (Indianapolis, Ind.) was the first out of the pen for the Blazers, throwing three and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs on six hits and striking out three.

Freshman Colton Okes (Evansville, Ind.) closed out the seventh inning in just two pitches and began the eighth before coming out after just eight pitches in the game.

Sophomore Jace Parnin (Fort Wayne, Ind.) took to the mound to close out the eighth inning, allowing one hit in an inning of work.

“The story in game one is that they scored seven of their 13 runs with two outs,” VU Head Baseball Coach Chris Barney said. “We can’t allow that to happen. We’ve got to find a way to get the third out and it’s just disappointing.”

“The guys battled back and had a big inning late,” Barney added. “We took advantage of some walks and mistakes and were able to come up with some big hits. But it wasn’t enough. We put ourselves in a situation to win and it didn’t happen.”

The Trailblazers looked to ride some of this late game momentum into the series finale and come out of the weekend with a win, but again found themselves playing from behind early.

John Wood jumped on the scoreboard early with three runs in the first, a run in the third and four runs in the fourth to take another big 8-0 lead.

Vincennes once again looked poised for a late comeback after freshman Logan Edwards (Corydon, Ind.) drew a walk to lead off the fifth, followed by a single by sophomore Carter Whitehead, one of his three hits in the game and an RBI single by Bryce Gross to put Vincennes on the board for the first time in game two.

Gross was followed by a single by Bradyn Douglas, a bases loaded walk by Blake Heyerly and a run driven in on a fielding error put in play by Kade Hinton to cut the deficit to 8-3.

After a scoreless top of the sixth, the Trailblazers looked to do more damage at the plate and came through with another RBI single by Bryce Gross and a big three-run home run by Blake Heyerly, his fifth of the season and third home run in the last seven games for VU.

Heyerly’s big fly put the Blazers within one going to the final inning of play Sunday and after John Wood went down with another scoreless inning, the Trailblazers again had an opportunity to complete the comeback and either extend the game or close out the weekend with a walk off.

Jace Parnin led off the bottom of the seventh and was able to reach second on another fielding error by John Wood.

This would be as close as Vincennes would get however, as the Blazers stranded the potential tying run at second and John Wood closed out the weekend series by taking game two 8-7.

Freshman Yancey Edlin (Pekin, Ind.) got the start in game two for the Trailblazers, settling down after a tough first inning to throw three and one-third innings, allowing seven runs on five hits and striking out two.

Sophomore Christian Pinson (Elizabethtown, Ky.) was the first out of the pen, allowing one run on five hits and striking out three in two and two-thirds innings on the mound.

Freshman Bryce Gross came in to pitch the seventh, ending the inning without allowing a run on just one hit in nine pitches.

“Game two was a similar story, we needed big hits,” Barney said. “We had the bases loaded in the first inning with nobody out and didn’t score a run. We had a runner at second base in the third and didn’t score him. We had a runner at second in the bottom of the seventh and didn’t even move him.”

“Our hitters have to step up in key situations, that’s it,” Barney added. “That’s the difference in the game. Christian Pinson threw really well. We didn’t make any errors defensively. It just comes down to our ability to come up with big hits in key situations and that’s really been the story of our season.”

The Trailblazers will look to bounce back and build some momentum going into the Conference tournament as VU heads into the final week of the 2024 regular season.

Vincennes will begin the week at home when VU hosts Wabash Valley College at Jerry Blemker Field Tuesday, April 30. First pitch for this game is set for 6 p.m. eastern.

The Blazers will then head into the final MWAC Conference series of the regular season against Parkland College.

VU will host the first two games of this four-game split series Saturday, May 4 at 1 p.m. before the series shifts to Champaign, Ill. for the final two regular season games Sunday, May 5, first pitch Sunday is also set for 1 p.m. eastern.

“We’ve got to find some confidence at the plate,” Barney said. “We have played fairly well defensively. Our pitching has got to get better. Put up some solid innings and allow minimal damage. It’s a tough situation when you are playing from behind all the time but at the same time our offense has got to step up in key situations and apply some pressure to the other team.”