Han '21 blasts three-run homer in baseball's season-opening loss

Craig Sandford '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Craig Sandford '19 (Josh McKee photo)

The Illinois Wesleyan University Titans took the lead for good with a five-run third inning and went on to a 14-5 non-conference win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Chain of Lakes Stadium in Winter Haven, Fla., on Wednesday night.

Hamilton played its first game of 2018 while Illinois Wesleyan improved its overall record to 7-1. The Titans banged out 21 hits, including seven for extra bases. Illinois Wesleyan scored four runs in the top of the first, five in the third, one in the fifth and four more in the seventh.

The Continentals had five newcomers in the starting lineup and a freshman started on the mound. Jacob Han '21 hammered a three-run homer in his first collegiate at-bat, Craig Sandford '19 singled twice and walked, and Matt McGoey '21 drew two walks and added a base hit. Jarrett Lee '21 doubled and Matt Cappelletti '21 tripled in his only plate appearance. Gavin Schaefer-Hood '21 pitched into the third inning and took the loss in his first collegiate start.

Titans' leadoff batter Brandon Skopick went 5-for-5 with four runs scored. Nick Figus had four hits, John Bosco boasted three hits and four RBI, and Gino Cavalieri finished a home run short of the cycle and drove in three. Nick Watson pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless relief and picked up the win.

Illinois Wesleyan jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first on four hits, a walk and a hit batsman. A two-out, two-run double by designated hitter Mike Plecki was the big blow in the inning.

Hamilton quickly tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Lee was the first batter and was plunked. Jordan Northrup '19 walked and Sandford loaded the bases on a single to left field. Dean Rosenberg '18 drove in Lee with a sacrifice fly to right field and Han chased starting pitcher Matt Banaitis with a shot over the wall in left field.

After a scoreless second inning, the Titans went in front to stay with five runs on six hits in the top of the third. John Bosco's bases-clearing double to right center made it 9-4 before he was thrown out at third.

Figus pushed Illinois Wesleyan's lead to 10-4 in the fifth inning when his two-out single to left drove in Skopick. The Titans clinched the victory with four more runs in the seventh. Cavalieri drove in two runs with a triple to center and then scored on Ben Manski's base hit to left center that made it 14-4.

James Nish '20 and McGoey led off the bottom of the eighth with walks for the Continentals. Nish moved over to third on a double play and scored on a wild pitch. Mike Borek '18 didn't allow a run and struck out three as he pitched the last two innings for Hamilton.

The Continentals are back in action on Thursday, March 15 with a doubleheader against Fitchburg State University at Lake Myrtle Field #5 in Auburndale. First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.