Mount St. Joseph came into the weekend dead even in conference play at 6-6. They would need a good weekend against Franklin, who was above them in the standings, to keep pace and give themselves a chance to make a run at making the HCAC tournament.
Alex Wagner (West Chester, OH / Lakota West) got back to his usual ways on Friday afternoon. Wagner had electric stuff against the Grizzlies in the series opener, going 7 innings strong and giving up just 1 run, while striking out 5.
The Lions would have a hard time pushing runs across the plate against a good pitching performance by Franklin. Both teams would score once in the third inning and that would be the end of the scoring for either side until the eighth, when Ryan McCauley (Canal Winchester, OH / Madison Christian) doubled to center field, scoring Zak Farmer (Hamilton, OH / Lakota West) from first base.
McCauley would strike again in the bottom of the tenth inning when he would fly out to left field, scoring Drew Werner () on a sacrifice fly. The Lions would take game one by a score of 3-2 on the walkoff.
The Lions would receive another stellar pitching performance by Austin Richey (Cincinnati, OH / CCD) in the second game of the series. Richey would battle through 5.1 innings of work, allowing just 2 runs and striking out 5. Malik Zuberi (Cincinnati, OH / Lakota West) and Zak Farmer would combine to throw the remaining 3.1 innings against Franklin, giving up just one baserunner between them.
The Lions would again find themselves locked in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the ninth and for the second straight game, Mount St. Joseph would walkoff on the Grizzlies. This came on a bases loaded single by Simon Schaefer (Cincinnati, OH / St. Xavier) to score Zak Farmer and give the Lions the 3-2 win for the second straight game.
Paul Spaulding (Cincinnati, OH / LaSalle) would take the hill for game three as the Lions would look to sweep Franklin. Spaulding would not have his best stuff and would only last 3.2 innings, allowing 4 runs and walking 5 Grizzlies.
The Mount St. Joseph offense was able to keep the team in the game, however, and when Spaulding exited the game the score was still knotted at 4-4. The Lions would end up regaining the lead in the seventh inning by a score of 5-4 but it would not last.
Franklin would get to the Lion bullpen late in the game and was able to put up seven runs in the last two innings, giving the Grizzlies a 11-5 win in the series finale.
LIONS AT THE PEAK
Alex Wagner and Austin Richey were the two stars this weekend. Neither of the starting pitchers earned a win but both of them put the Lions in position to take the first two games of the series. The two combined to throw 12.1 innings on the weekend, striking out 10 hitters, and giving up just 3 runs.
The Lions are back in action on Tuesday as they host Earlham College at Midland Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 PM.