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September 29, 2023

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A Falcon Blackjack

Until yesterday, Albion College’s baseball team had not visited BG since 1947.

However, because of the recent events at Steller Field, it may be another 61 years until Albion visits again.

The Falcons dominated the Britons 21-1 in BG’s 22nd non-conference game of the season. In much the same way that Kent State beat up the Falcons this past weekend, coach Danny Schmitz’s team turned the tables on a weak Division III squad to help regain some confidence.

‘It was important that we got back out on the field and put together three successful phases of a baseball game,’ Schmitz said. ‘That really escaped us against Kent and hopefully this gives us some momentum now.’

BG (18-16) put the game away early yesterday, scoring three runs in the first, seven in the third, and four in the fourth. That was plenty of run support for starter Brennan Smith who threw five scoreless innings in his fourth start of the season, giving up only two hits and two walks while striking out four.

Kevin Light and Dan Parsons shut down the Briton offense from the sixth through eighth innings. Phil Hettlinger came in for the ninth and surrendered an unearned run in Albion third baseman Ryan Thurston, who crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

Had it not been for that wild pitch, the Falcons would have posted a perfect three-touchdown victory over the Britons (10-21).

The major offensive contributions came from the middle of the BG lineup. Excluding the eighth inning when the last three Falcon hitters mercifully flew out, the three, four and five spots in the order had only been retired twice all game.

They accounted for 12 of BG’s runs, hitting four singles, a double, two triples and three home runs.

Leading that charge was the five-hole tandem of Logan Meisler and Chris Gacom. Meisler started the game at second base and slammed a home run in the first inning, a triple in the third and a single in the fourth. He lacked only a double for the cycle.

‘It didn’t really matter to me that I didn’t get it,’ Meisler said. ‘We just needed everyone to start hitting and it was good that we could all get at-bats today.’

Schmitz elected to replace Meisler with Gacom at second base in the fifth inning.

‘I really didn’t even think about it,’ Schmitz said, laughing about the rather ill-timed roster move.

Turned out to not be such a bad decision after all, as Gacom promptly stepped to the plate and brought home Dennis Vaughn with a home run to left-center field in the fifth.

The next inning, with Vaughn, Kevin Light, and Ryan Price filling the bases, Gacom pulled one over the left field fence. That left Albion reliever Joe Jacob’s earned-run average bruised up at 13.14.

‘Hitting it seemed kind of surreal,’ Gacom said of his first career grand slam. ‘It felt good when I hit it, and when I got back to the dugout ‘hellip; I don’t even know how to describe it. That’s just a good feeling.’

Meisler and Gacom accounted for 11 of the 21 Falcon RBI’s on the day, with Clay Duncan, Ryan Shay, and Vaughn also picking up two each.

‘I’m sure Albion’s not a bad team,’ Gacom said. ‘They came in here, and unfortunately for them, we just needed to get back on track. Whatever team it was, we were planning to put it to them.’

The Falcons accomplished that, and then some. BG’s offense can look to do more of the same against its next opponent, Oakland University, which brings a team ERA of 7.06 into tomorrow’s 3 p.m. game at Steller Field.

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