News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rose-Hulman

March 26, 2011

Pitcher allows 4 hits in leading Engineers to HCAC victory

TERRE HAUTE — Riding the shutout pitching of starter Andrew Oakley for seven innings, Rose-Hulman’s baseball team opened the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference part of its season with a 6-1 triumph over Defiance on a chilly Friday night at Art Nehf Field.

The Engineers, who increased their winning streak to six games, jumped ahead with a run in the first inning. Chris Stemple led off with a single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. One out later, Stemple raced home on Michael Kovacs’ double into the right-center-field gap.

Rose boosted its lead to 2-0 in the second when sophomore Donald Stopka blasted a solo home run that caromed off the pole down the left-field line.

“We’re not that kind of hitting team, but it was a good 2-0 pitch,” Rose-Hulman coach Jeff Jenkins told the Tribune-Star. “It was a fastball inside. With a 2-0 swing, we tell our guys ‘come out of your shoes.’ It’s only a strike [if you miss or hit it foul]… I don’t mind if our guys are taking a good hack up there.”

The home team went up 5-0, thanks to a three-run third. B.J. Zobrist led off with a hit-by-pitch and Kovacs reached base on a fielding error.

After Bobby Newman sac-bunted them up one base, Derek Dauenbaugh lined an RBI single to right, Stopka lofted a foul sacrifice fly down the right-field line and Neil Krueger delivered an RBI double into the right-center gap.

Rose’s sixth run came in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk to Will Burchett.

Jenkins replaced Oakley, who had posted a career-high eight strikeouts, with Kevin Farley heading into the eighth. Defiance touched Farley for a run in the ninth, but Oakley still improved his record to 5-0.

“Today I’d say it was my changeup that was most effective,” Oakley mentioned. “I got a lot of swings and misses on that. They were aggressive and it was a pitch that was able to keep them off-balance.”

“Andrew’s been working like that all year long,” Jenkins added. “He’s really developed his changeup… They don’t hit that pitch and he’s getting strikeouts. He’s never really been a strikeout guy, but tonight he averaged a little better than one an inning.”

The Engineers’ leading hitters were Dauenbaugh, who went 2 for 4, and Stemple, who went 2 for 5. They finished with nine hits.

“We hit the ball hard,” Jenkins emphasized. “We had some hard outs.”

The veteran Rose-Hulman coach admitted that he questioned himself a little about removing Oakley when he did, considering the ace pitcher had allowed only four hits and three walks.

“On a cold night like this, you don’t want to overwork your No. 1,” he pointed out. “But when you’ve got a guy going that well, it’s hard to pull him early. He was throwing well and throwing with confidence… That’s five quality starts for him [this season]. That’s the important thing.”

Oakley didn’t seem worried about not getting his second complete game of 2011. He’s more concerned about his team starting the conference season with a victory.

“We’re off to a good start, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Oakley assessed. “Our goal is to get back to the conference tournament, like it is every year.”

Rose and Defiance will meet at noon today for a series-ending doubleheader (seven-inning first game and nine-inning second game, unless the first game goes extra innings). Jim Bob Schuler (2-0) and Gannon Sadzeck (0-1) are penciled in to pitch for the Engineers.

“They’re going to battle,” Jenkins said of the Yellow Jackets. “They’re like us a lot. They use a lot of players … and they don’t hit real well at the bottom of the order. That’s a lot like us right now too.

“We just want to get a lot of guys contributing. We need two quality starts Saturday.”

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