AUBURNDALE, Fla. --- For the second day in a row, the Thomas College baseball team split a doubleheader at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex.
On Wednesday, it Loras. Thursday, the opponent was Grove City with the Terriers taking game one by a 6-3 score and the Wolverines capturing the nightcap, 4-1.
Game 1 --- Thomas 6, Grove City 3
Grove City plated the game's first run in the top of the first inning when Nolan Myers stole home as part of a double steal.
Thomas grabbed lead in the bottom half of the frame with a pair of unearned runs. Senior Derek Kane (Natick, Mass. / Natick) hit an RBI double to left that scored fellow senior Anree Benitez (Orlando, Fla. / University). Kane came around to score the second run when freshman Zach Mathieu (Oakland, Maine / Messalonskee) reached on a fielding error.
Three more runs crossed in the third inning as junior Dominic Esposito (Portland, Maine / Deering) scored on a Benitez RBI single up the middle. With Kane batting, Benitez stole second and scored when Kane rapped a triple to left center. Kane made it 5-1 when he scored on a wild pitch.
Mathieu made it 6-1 when he scored on an RBI single by senior Joe Quinlan (Westbrook, Maine / Westbrook) in the third.
Grove City loaded the bases in the fourth but Thomas was able to work its way out of the jam. The Wolverines cut into the lead with one run each in the sixth and seventh but could get no closer. Micah Burke scored in the sixth on a Travis Auth sacrifice fly and Matt Waugaman scored on a wild pitch in the seventh.
Sophomore Connor Hope (Willimantic, Conn. / Windham) picked up the victory in his first collegiate pitching appearance. He allowed just one run in four innings while walking five and striking out two.
Senior Nik Beeson (Manchester, N.H. / Trinity), who started the game at shortstop, came in with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh to collect the save.
Benitez and Kane both went 2-for-4 to lead the Terriers at the plate.
Burke, Shane Hammel and Tyler Graham collected Grove City's three hits in the game.
Game 2 --- Grove City 4, Thomas 1
The Wolverines grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nolan Myers doubled to center field off Thomas starter Mike Confer (so., Las Vegas, Nev. / Mojave), scoring David Laylock all the way from first base.
Grove City added to its lead in the second, capitalizing on a rocky start by Confer. Micah Burke opened the frame with a single to left field and moved to second when Drew Landis drew a walk. Shane Hammel drove the pair in with a two-RBI double to left center but was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a triple. Confer issued another walk, this one to Derek Boyle, before being lifted in favor of sophomore Rob Harris (Flushing, Mich. / Bridgton Academy).
Landis gave GCC its final run when he crushed a Harris offering over the fence down the left-field line to lead off the fourth inning.
Thomas had at least one base runner in each of the first four innings but couldn't push a run across against Grove City's John Bini.
The Terriers finally broke through in the fifth when sophomore Aron Smestad (Corinna, Maine / Nokomis Regional) tripled to right field and scored on a Derek Kane RBI single up the middle.
That would be all for Thomas, however, as Bini finished off the complete game, allowing just one run and striking out six while scattering seven hits and two walks.
Four Terrier pitchers combined to allow four runs on eight hits while walking five and striking out four. Confer took the loss after being tagged with three of those runs in 1 1/3 innings. Harris threw 1 2/3 innings, allowing two hits - including the Landis home run - and a walk.
Offensively, Smestad and Zach Mathieu had two hits apiece to lead the Terriers, while Myers, Landis and Hammel all had two hits for the Wolverines.
The Terriers (3-5) have Friday off before facing Castleton in a four-game North Atlantic Conference series over the weekend. Saturday's doubleheader begins at 2 p.m. at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven. Sunday's doubleheader is slated for a noon first pitch back in Auburndale.