GRANVILLE, Ohio -- The Big Red pushed their current winning streak to a program-best 12 games following a doubleheader sweep of Oberlin on Saturday afternoon. Denison scored three late runs to earn a 4-2 win in game one before an eight-run eighth in nightcap secured a 19-10 victory.
Prior to this current run, the longest winning streak by a Denison baseball team came in 2003 when DU rattled off 11-consecutive victories from April 13 to May 3. This year's squad hasn't lost since a 10-7 setback to Nichols on March 17 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
In the opener, starting pitchers Zack Huarte and Sean Kiley kept the game scoreless through four and a half frames. The Big Red ended the scoring drought when junior Noah Hahn sent a towering fly ball to left. With Jack Blanchard ready to tag up at third, the ball put in play by Hahn was dropped in left field, allowing Blanchard to score from third.
The Yeomen answered with solo runs in the seventh and eighth innings to grab a 2-1 advantage. Now facing their first deficit of the day, Denison sent the top of the order to the plate in the home half of the eighth. Eric Zmuda reached safely on a throwing error to opening the frame, while a hit by pitch put the go-ahead run on base. Senior Phil Papaioannou attempted to move both runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt, but an errant throw allowed both Zmuda and Evan Flax to score on the play while Papaioannou made it all the way around to third on the play.
After recording two outs, a double by Blanchard scored Sam Frazen from first to extended the Big Red's lead to 4-2. Three outs away from taking game one, Denison Head Coach Mike Deegan brought in senior closer Connor Hanrahan to shut the door. Hanrahan needed just three pitches to retire the first two batters through the air. After giving up back-to-back singles, the senior right-hander struck Quin Butler out swinging for the final out of the game.
Blanchard finished with two doubles, an RBI and a run, while Papaioannou, Joseph Maydwell and Tucker Davison registered DU's other three hits. In addition to scoring the game-winning run, Flax also swiped a base in the win. Matthew Zmuda picked up his first win of the year after retiring the only batter he faced in the eighth. For Hanrahan, it marked his second save of 2017. Huarte finished the game with nine strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings of work.
The finale of Saturday's twinbill saw the two teams combined for 29 runs and 26 hits. After surrendering two runs in the top of the first, Denison plated four to take the lead. Frazen knocked in Zmuda with a SAC fly to center, while a base hit by Maydwell scored Blanchard. Ethan Carlyon followed with a double to left center that pushed across Maydwell and Tanner Johnson.
Oberlin answered with a single run in the second and four more in the third to take a 7-4 lead after three innings. The Big Red closed the gap by drawing four consecutive one-out walks in the fourth to make it a 7-5 contest. Frazen deposited a double down the left line that drove home Papaioannou and Blanchard, tying the game at 7-7. Johnson broke the tie by touching the dish on a sacrifice fly to left by Maydwell.
A single by Blanchard and a double by Papaioannou in the fifth pushed DU's lead to 10-7, while a ground ball hit by Vince Walker in the sixth extended the advantage to 11-7. The Yeomen pulled to within one after plating three runs in the eighth, but an eight-run bottom of the frame put the game out of reach. Davison, Blanchard and Matt Bonollo all had two-run plate appearances in the eighth.
Blanchard went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, four runs and a stolen base in game two, while Frazen recorded a double and knocked in three. Zmuda and Johnson each touched the dish three times, while Bonollo, Maydwell and Carlyon all drove in a pair. Junior southpaw Cody Mauri improved to 4-0 this season after giving up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in four innings of relief work.
The Big Red improves to 18-3 on the year, while Oberlin falls to 10-12. Denison is scheduled to return to action next Friday when they travel to Greencastle, Ind. for a North Coast Athletic Conference West Division series against DePauw. Game one of Friday's doubleheader is slated to begin at 12 p.m.