Sanford, FL – Delta College finished it's spring trip with a split against fourth ranked Niagara County on Saturday, winning the first game 2-0 before dropping the nightcap, 6-5. The Pioneers return home from Florida sporting a 6-6 record on the young season.
Game one saw Pioneers pitcher Thomas Fortney throw a complete game, giving up just two hits while striking out five and walking three. Delta and Niagara were tied at zeros heading in to the bottom of the fifth when Zach Schirmer led the inning off with a single to center. Hunter David was then plunked with a pitch to put runners at first and second. A wild pitch moved them up to second and third and Justin Heinlein brought Schirmer home on a single to give DC the 1-0 lead.
With the score still 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Brady Leppek reached on a single before being lifted for pinch runner Peyton Jurek. With two outs and two strikes, Ty Robbins hit an opposite field triple to score Jurek and give Delta an insurance run. Fortney would shut down the Thunder Wolves in the seventh to even his record to 1-1 on the year.
The second game saw Delta take an early 1-0 lead as Dean Marais drew a leadoff walk and went to third on back-to-back wild pitches. Robins would then bring him home on a groundout to second. Niagara took the lead with three runs in the fourth, however, courtesy of a walk, an error and three hits off of starting pitcher Jake Gross.
But the Pioneers answered with four of their own in the top of the fifth as Mitch Morely scored on an Aaron Esparza single to make it a 3-2 game. Ty Snover followed up with a single and both players were brought home on a Jeff Wright pinch hit to give DC a 4-3 lead. Wright would then score on a Ty Robbins single to make it a 5-3 game.
The bottom of the fifth saw Gross get in to trouble for Delta, however, as a leadoff double and infield single was followed up by another Delta error – one of four they would make in the game – as well as two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch. Two relief pitchers later the Thunder Wolves held a 6-5 lead and Delta wouldn't threaten over the final two innings.
Jake Gross took the loss to drop his record to 0-2 on the season. He gave up four earned runs on six hits and six strikeouts over four innings. Six different Delta hitters had hits in the game led by Ty Robbins two RBI effort.
"Niagara is a good measuring stick for us," said head coach Danny Smith. "They've been to the series five of the past seven years and are perennially ranked in the top ten of the country."
"This entire week would have been different if not for one inning against KVCC, one inning against BAC and one inning today. That bodes well for our club going forward.
"We return home, take a couple days off, work on the things we need to fix and get ready for league play."
The Pioneers return to action on March 20th as they head to Saginaw Valley to play the Cardinal JV club in a double-header.