Denison split a key North Coast Athletic Conference doubleheader with rival Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday. DU took the opener 5-1, but dropped game two 7-3.
The Big Red won game one behind a strong performance on the hill from senior Tyler Vaske. Vaske tossed a complete-game five-hit shutout en route to his first victory of the season. He surrendered just one earned run and struck out seven batters over the seven frames.
After the Bishops took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a Nathan Strome sacrifice fly to right, the Denison offense gave Vaske all the run support he needed. A two-base error to start the bottom of the frame came back to bite OWU. Freshman Ryan Mulligan knocked in Charlie Apfelbach with a single to left field. After Evan Nicholson drew a free pass, junior Danny Kraus drove in the game-winning run with a base hit to right center.
Nicholson added an insurance run when a fielding error by the catcher allowed the senior to score on a double steal attempt. Rookie Kyle Colgain tacked on the fourth run of the inning with a base hit to right center that scored Kraus. Denison plated another run in the fifth when a sacrifice bunt by Tim Duxbury scored senior Andrew Mahle from third base.
Mulligan went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI in the opener, while Kraus and Colgain each posted RBI singles.
DU scored a run in the third and fourth innings to take a 2-0 lead in the nightcap. Senior Justin Vaske crossed the dish in the third on a ground out by Apfelbach, while senior Drew Rice sent a base hit through the left side that scored Duxbury.
Despite the early lead, the Battling Bishops answered with a run in the sixth, and three more in the seventh and eighth frames to grab a 7-2 lead. Vaske scored on a wild pitch to close the gap to four, but it was too little too late as OWU held on for the split.
Rice finished 2-for-3, while Nicholson and senior David Baskin posted a double and a triple, respectively. Sophomore Connor Murphy suffered the loss after allowing four runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Both Denison (10-20-1) and Ohio Wesleyan (16-13) move into a three-way tie with Wabash for second place in the NCAC West Division. All three squads are 4-6 in division play. The Big Red looks to close out its four-game series with OWU on Monday. Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Note: Prior to game one of today's doubleheader Denison recognized seniors David Baskin, Kevin Bratcher, McCavitt Carter, Joro Forman, Chris Fries, Dave Holmes, Andrew Mahle, Evan Nicholson, Tyler Nicholson, Drew Rice, Hunter Sorensen, Justin Vaske and Tyler Vaske.