University of Evansville Baseball Team Swept By Kennesaw State


ATLANTA, Ga. – Despite big offensive displays in both ends of a doubleheader, the University of Evansville baseball team (1-5) was swept by Kennesaw State (3-4), 10-9 and 8-6, in Atlanta Saturday afternoon.

In the opening contest, the Purple Aces raced out to a quick 4-0 lead highlighted by a three-run first, led by senior designated hitter Travis Tokarek’s 2-run home run to right, his first of the season. Sophomore center fielder Kenton Crews added to the pad in the second frame with an RBI infield single.

The Owls would winnow the lead down to 5-3 as junior starting pitcher Alex Weigand got tagged for a solo home run by Forrest Bramlett in the bottom of the 2nd inning, followed by a 2-run single off the bat of Jake Franklin.

However, the Aces kept swinging. In the 4th inning sophomore shortstop, Craig Shepherd drove in Crews on an RBI single. Then, Andrew Tanous delivered a base hit to center, scoring Shepherd, pushing the lead back up to four runs.

In the 5th, sophomore first baseman Troy Beilsmith lifted a run-scoring lace to left, bringing home freshman third baseman Tanner Craig. Another first-year player, second baseman Pete Vaccaro, followed that up sending a single back up the middle, tallying Beilsmith to push UE’s lead to 9-6.

Weigand would leave the game after five solid innings, striking out six, while allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. However, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Jimmy Ward got the first two outs of the sixth, but the third was not so easy. Kennesaw State’s Grant Williams drove in one run on an RBI double down the left field line. Then Ward uncorked a wild pitch that allowed another run totally, cutting the Evansville lead to 9-5.

The Owls would continue slugging in the 7th, forcing a pitching change, with Nathan Croner relieving Ward. Croner got a strikeout, then was quickly pulled for Matt Brady. However, Brady’s luck was not as good, as the Aces lone fielding error of the game allowed one run to score. Then, Garrett Hodges kept the rally going with a run-scoring single up the middle, dropping the UE lead down to two.

Brady came back out for the 8th, and after giving up a walk and a double was tagged for a game-tying 2-run single by Jake Franklin, knotting it up at nine.

Sophomore closer Adam Lukas took over for Brady in the ninth, and after getting the first out of the frame, gave up the game-winning walk-off solo home run to Hodges, as the Owls took a 10-9 decision.

“The energy was good and we put ourselves in a position to win the first game, but we couldn’t find a way to close the door,” said University of Evansville head coach Wes Carroll. “We had a disastrous 6th inning on the mound that we could not recover from.”

Game two of the twin bill saw the Aces bounce back from an early deficit, behind 2-run home runs off the bats of Dalton Horstmeier and Andrew Tanous to build a 5-1 lead on Kennesaw State after five innings.

However, sophomore starting pitcher David Ellis couldn’t get out of the sixth frame, charged with three runs. Reliever Nathan Croner couldn’t stop the bleeding, giving up two more tallies without registering an out. Freshman reliever Austin Ruesch would finally put out the fire, but UE was down 7-5 after six innings.

The Aces would attempt a rally in the 7th, as freshman third baseman Tanner Craig would driving Craig Shepherd on an RBI single to center, cutting the deficit to one.

But Evansville would draw no closer, and Kennesaw State would add an insurance run in the bottom of the frame, and go onto win 8-6.

The Aces will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow in the series finale in Atlanta. First pitch from Stillwell Stadium is at 12 p.m. central time.