GRANVILLE, Ohio -- Denison opened the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference scheduled with a doubleheader split with Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday. The Big Red picked up a 7-0 victory in game one before dropping a back-and-forth battle in the nightcap, 11-8.
In the opener, the Denison offense provided early run support for starting pitcher Sarah Herold. Senior Ryan Lee got things going with a one-out double to left in the first. After a base on balls to Ricki Asher, Lauren Secaras dropped a base hit into center that plated Lee. Now with two outs and the bases loaded, freshman Charlotte Happel deposited a single into left center that scored both Asher and Secaras.
The Bishops biggest threat came in the third frame when they loaded the bases with two outs. Herold escaped the jam unscathed by inducing a ground ball to Lee at short. The senior quickly stepped on the second-base bag to keep OWU off the scoreboard.
The Big Red tacked on insurance runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to secure the win. Secaras doubled in Lee in the fifth to extended the advantage to 4-0. In the sixth, an RBI single to right center by Mckinly Vazquez plated Kerry Hager. Vazquez eventually came around to score on a double to right center by Lee. The senior shortstop also touched the dish thanks to a base hit up the middle by Asher.
Herold (6-2) extended her string of consecutive scoreless innings to 12 after tossing seven shutout frames. The junior southpaw scattered four hits and struck out four in the win. Lee finished with three hits (all doubles) and three runs. Secaras went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run, while Vazquez also had two hits.
The finale was an offensive display as the two teams combined for 19 runs and 32 hits. Trailing 3-0 heading into the bottom of the first, Lee cut into the deficit with a one-out solo homer down the left line. The long ball was the sixth of the her career. Asher and Secaras followed with a single and double, respectively, before a base hit up the middle by Lindsey Clemson brought home Asher and shrunk the gap to one run.
OWU rebuilt a three-run advantage with a two-run homer in the top of the second. The ball continued to fly out of the park in the home half of the inning. With one on and one out, Herold blasted a two-run shot of her own to pull the Big Red within one for a second time.
Still down 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth, Herold accomplished a feat that had only been done seven times prior in the 21-year history of the program. For the second-straight plate appearance, the junior sent an Emily VanDermark pitch over the left field wall. Herold became the seventh person to hit a homer in consecutive plate appearances with the last time coming in 2012 (Jess Robertson – April 3 at Oberlin). It also marked the 11th time in program history a DU player recorded two home runs in a single game. Secaras gave Denison their first lead of the game three batters later with a single up the middle that scored Lee.
An RBI single and a throwing error allowed the Battling Bishops to retake the lead in the top of the fifth. The lead was short lived as Hager scored the game-tying run in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly to right by Herold. Lee followed the SAC fly with an RBI single that scored Vazquez and gave Denison an 8-7 edge.
DU held a one-run lead into seventh inning. Following a leadoff single, a fielder's choice and back-to-back base hits, Ohio Wesleyan had the bases full with one out. The Bishops retook the lead with one swing of the bat as Lareese Marston hit a grand slam to go in front by three. Consecutive one-out singles by Herold and Lee allowed the Big Red to bring the game-tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. However, a strikeout by Bianca Sibilly and fly out to right brought the game to an end.
Lee finished the twinbill with a .778 batting average and a 1.556 slugging percentage after going 7-for-9 with four doubles, a home run, five runs and three RBIs. Herold finished game two with three hits, including two home runs, four RBIs and two runs, while Clemson also logged three hits. Asher, Secaras, Hager and Vazquez each registered two hits in game two. Colleen Hoffman (1-1) suffered the loss in relief after allowing four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings of work.
Denison moves to 13-7 overall, while the Bishops now sit at 6-12. Both teams are 1-1 in NCAC play. The Big Red will be back in action on Monday (April 3) when they travel to Crestview Hills, Ky. to take on Thomas More. Game one of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.