Beloit, WI -- The Beloit College Baseball team couldn't have enjoyed a happier Saturday at The Ballpark at Strong Stadium if they had tried, sweeping rival Ripon College 7-4 and 5-4; clinching a spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament; and sending their six seniors off with a pair of great wins.
Seniors Zach Jenkins, Kam Sallee, Shane Wood, Mike Gulve, Austin Martinez and Austin Padjen were honored during between-game introductions.
In the second game, which made it possible for the Buccaneers to defend their 2016 MWC Championship, it was a case of fine relief pitching, timely defense and, yes, some good fortune.
The Red Hawks jumped in front with a run in the first but Beloit responded with two unearned runs in the bottom of the inning, with Gulve scoring on an error and Martinez driving in the second run on a fielder's choice. RC tied it with a run in the second before the Buccaneers retook the lead in the third when Jeremy Dutton singled in a run. Ripon jumped back on top with two in fourth but the Bucs closed out the scoring with two in the bottom of the inning. Mark Christine and Gulve had back-to-back fielder's choice RBI's to make it 5-4.
The Red Hawks threatened in seemingly every one of their final five at-bats but the reliefe pitching of David Harrison, who went 2.2 innings, and Christine, who got the final two outs, stranded nine Ripon runners in those five innings.
Danny Belling earned his fifth win with 5.2 innings while Christine got his fourth save, stranding the bases loaded in the ninth. Jalen Davis and Ethan Conley both had two hits.
In the opener RC also jumped in front with two in the third. But the Buccaneers took charge of the game with four in the fourth, two in the fifth and a final run in the sixth. The big hit in the fourth was Conley's bases-loaded triple. Brice Call also had a bases-loaded walk in the inning. In the fifth both Sallee and Dutton had run-scoring singles and Sallee got the final run across with a base hit in the sixth.
Ripon got two runs back in the eighth before Padjen finished his complete-game win with a double play in the ninth. Padjen gave up three earned runs on eight hits, striking out five and walking one. Davis finished with three hits and Sallee two.
The two teams finish up their four-game series, and the regular season, on Sunday in Ripon. First pitch is at 1:00 p.m.