FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Friday afternoon the University of Saint Francis Cougars (25-13; 15-7 Crossroads) played host to the Marian University Knights (17-20; 10-12 Crossroads) in a doubleheader at Parkview Field in the first two games of a four-game home series, and swept both games by scores of 8-6 and 3-1.
Freshman pitcher Casey Henry took the mound to start the opener for the Cougars and kept the Knights off the scoreboard through the first two innings. Meanwhile, the Cougars got on the board first with a sacrifice fly from catcher Tyler Rickert to go up 1-0.
But in the top of the third the Knights got their offense going. It started with a hit batsman and was followed by three hits as Marian plated three runs and took a 3-1 lead.
Henry continued to battle and keep his team in the game as he worked five and a thirds innings allowing just six hits as he exited still down 3-1 while responsible for two base runners. One of them came around to score and extend Marian’s lead to 4-1 after six innings.
But in the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars began to chip away. Shortstop Brady Harris got it started with a leadoff triple and came around to score on left fielder Alec Brunson’s single to cut the deficit to two runs.
Then what followed was a hit batsman, another single to make it 4-3, and after the Cougars loaded the bases with just one out, third baseman Kaden Sullivan reached on a fielder’s choice to score the tying run and on the same play, a wild throw from the Knights second baseman in an effort to complete an inning-ending double play, threw the ball away as the fourth run of the inning scored for Saint Francis to put them ahead 5-4.
Tyler Rickert got in on the fun with a two-run double himself to plate six runs in the inning and go ahead 7-4. Both teams exchanged a run in the eighth, and Kaden Sullivan came in to record the final three outs to preserve the 8-6 win for Saint Francis.
In the second game, senior Tanner Gaff started for the Cougars fresh off throwing a one-hit complete-game shutout in which he was two outs away from a no-hitter last Friday, earning him the Crossroads League Pitcher of the Week honors.
Gaff picked up where he left off by keeping the Knights off the scoreboard through the first three innings despite escaping a couple early jams.
Then in the bottom of the third with one out, a walk and a single brought up left fielder Alec Brunson, who smacked a three-run home run over the right-center field wall to put Saint Francis ahead 3-0.
Gaff continued to pitch well though he allowed a solo home run in the top of the fourth, but nothing else as his day was finished after five innings. Through those frames he allowed just one run on six hits.
Senior Connor Adams came in to relieve Gaff in the sixth and struck out the side. In the top of the seventh, Kaden Sullivan came in to record the final three outs like he did in the first game and did to bring the Cougars their second win of the day and the team’s fourth consecutive win.
The Cougars and Knights will finish off their four-game series on Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field with another doubleheader beginning at 1:00 pm.