Evan Etchison celebrating the final strikeout during Grace's 5-3 win over Indiana Wesleyan Tuesday
Evan Etchison celebrating the final strikeout during Grace's 5-3 win over Indiana Wesleyan Tuesday
WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s baseball team registered a split with Indiana Wesleyan on Tuesday at Miller Athletic Complex.

The Lancers and Wildcats played a pair of tightly contested games; IWU won the opener 9-7, but Grace had the final say by ending the day with a 5-3 victory.

In the opener, Grace’s bats came alive too late to defeat the Wildcats. IWU led 4-0 after four innings.

The Lancers used a two-out rally in the fifth inning to jump on the scoreboard. Alex Rich brought in Grace’s first two runs with a single, and he later came home to score on a wild pitch to slice IWU’s lead to 4-3.

The Wildcats responded with a run in the top of the sixth, and the score remained 5-3 until the ninth and final frame.

IWU scored four runs on four hits in the top of the ninth to gain separation from the Lancers, which proved to be critical.

The Lancers did their best to rally in the ninth with a valiant charge. Grace generated four runs, sparked by a three-run home run by Chris Griffin to pull the Lancers within two at 9-7. But the final batter for Grace popped out to end the matchup.

Bret Wilhelmi was Grace’s most effective pitcher, throwing three innings and allowing one unearned run with three strikeouts.

Rich drove in three runs and scored two himself, and Cal Curiel hit 2 for 5.

Grace’s hot hitting carried over from the end of game one as the Lancers grabbed an early lead to start game two.

The Lancers used three hits and aggressive baserunning to plate three runs in the bottom of the first. Rich, Austin Carr and Lucas Slager all drove in a run during the frame.

Isaiah Herbster started the game from the mound and did not allow a hit until the third inning. The Wildcats threatened to score in the third by loading the bases, but the Lancers escaped the inning unscathed.

The Wildcats were held in check offensively thanks to the pitching of Herbster and later Evan Etchison in relief. IWU was blanked for the first five innings.

IWU finally got on the scoreboard with a solo homer in the top of the sixth. They scored two more unearned runs in the inning, benefitting from a throwing error by Grace.

The 3-3 tied score did not last long. The Lancers responded by plating twice in the bottom of the sixth; IWU struggled with errors in the inning, and Grace was alert and opportunistic on the base paths to pull ahead 5-3.

Etchison took care of the rest from the mound. The sophomore struck out three in the top of the seventh, securing Grace’s win by the score of 5-3. He picked up the win, striking out five across the final 4.1 innings of work.

Carr was 1 for 2 with an RBI, Rich was 1 for 3 with two runs scored, Josh Cosme walked twice, and Danforth had a stolen base, run and hit.

The Lancers are back home on Friday with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. against Bethel. Grace’s series with IWU will end on Monday in Winona Lake at 1 p.m.