WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s baseball team dropped a pair of closely contested matchups against Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Thursday.

The Cougars, currently leading the Crossroads League, won both games by two runs. The Lancers fell 7-5 and 4-2 at Miller Athletic Complex.

In the opening game, the majority of the scoring occurred in two half-innings. The Cougars plated a run in the second inning, and the score remained 1-0 through four frames.

In the fifth inning, the Cougars tried to pull away. MVNU had five hits in the frame and benefitted from a Lancer error to score six times.

Grace began to dig out of the 7-0 hole in the sixth inning. Lucas Slager drove in Grace’s first run with an RBI single. Austin Carr then followed that up with a three-run home run to give the Lancers’ offense a jolt.

In the seventh inning, Josh Cosme drove in Cal Curiel to pull Grace to within two at 7-5.

But Grace was unable to inch any closer. Strong fielding by the Cougars ended Grace’s seventh and eighth innings with double plays, and the Lancers stranded two more baserunners in the ninth to conclude the game.

Mason Meyer and Kyle Reinartz threw the final 4.1 innings and did not allow a run out of the bullpen.

Danforth hit 3 for 4 with a run and a double, and Alex Rich was 2 for 5 with a triple and a run scored.

The Cougars began the second game strong. MVNU plated four times in the first two innings to grab an early advantage.

Grace threatened in the second inning, loading the bases with one out. Patrick Danforth drove in one run with a single, but the Lancers were retired with the bases loaded.

The middle portions of the game turned into a pitchers’ duel as neither team scored in the third, fourth or fifth innings.

Grace manufactured a run in the sixth inning as Curiel singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch, trimming the margin to 4-2. The Lancers still had two runners on base in the inning but were retired with a fly out.

The Lancers were unable to generate a runner in the final inning to fall by two runs.

Evan Etchison started game two, throwing six innings. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts. Caleb Farney threw the final inning in relief and did not allow a run or hit.

Grace was limited to five hits in the matchup. Danforth reached base on a hit and a hit by pitch, and he also drove in a run. Jeff Pawlik and Curiel each hit 1 for 2 with a run scored.

The Lancers and Cougars will end the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Lancers will also have Senior Day at 1 p.m. on Saturday to honor Grace’s graduating class.