Will Trolls pitchers come through?
Now comes the heavy lifting for Trinity Christian College’s baseball team.
Last Friday’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against the University of St. Francis started a string of 14 games in as many days for the Trolls, which is guaranteed to put a strain on any pitching staff — and any coach.
Trinity boss Jason Huisman will know soon enough the depth of his staff. Today’s doubleheader with Ashford University will, weather permitting, be the Trolls’ eighth and ninth games in a seven-day span and bring his rotation full circle.
Trinity opened last week with 7-4 and 10-6 victories over Roosevelt University, contests that featured more hitting than pinpoint pitching. But after an 8-3 bashing by the Fighting Saints in the first of two games last Friday at Silver Cross Field, the Trolls and USF engaged in a pair of extra-inning affairs.
The Saints won Friday’s nightcap 7-6 in 11 stanzas and then took Saturday’s rematch at Trinity, 4-3 in 10 innings. The outcomes brought the Trolls’ ledger to 9-12 overall and 4-4 in conference adventures heading into the current week, which started with a doubleheader against St. Xavier University.
Saturday’s loss featured Trinity exhibiting some pluck. USF tallied three runs in the top of the first and then was held off the board for eight innings. A two-run single by Vince Flores in the second erased the Trolls’ goose egg and an RBI single by Steve Brewer in the third tied the score at 3-all.
There it remained, despite Trinity scattering 13 hits and USF 10, until the 10th frame, when the Saints loaded the bases and Brad Porter coaxed a walk from Brad Kopale. That brought in pinch runner Jackson Schnieders with what became the winning run after the Trolls went down in order in their portion of the 10th.
USF completed its Friday sweep when Cody Columbus smacked a ball back toward the mound that Trinity reliever Drew Chibe couldn’t handle cleanly in the 11th inning. That resulted in an RBI hit that lifted the Saints to their 7-6 win.
• The Numbers (through April 6): 9-12 overall, 4-4 CCAC, 1-2 home, 3-6 road, 5-4 neutral. Leaders: Joe McCaw, .377 average, 29 hits, 19 RBI, .571 slugging percentage; Steve Brewer, McCaw, 1 HR each; Lance Lammers, 5 steals; Benny Collesano, 3 wins; Vince Flores, Taylor Boice, 0.00 ERA; Drew Chibe, 26 strikeouts.
• Schedule: Today, vs. Ashford University (2), 1 p.m.; Friday, at Purdue-North Central, 3 p.m.; Saturday, vs. Purdue-North Central (2), 1 p.m.; Tuesday, at Judson University (2), 4 p.m.; April 18, at Calumet College of St. Joseph, 5 p.m.; April 19, vs. Calumet College (2), 1 p.m.
The Trolls’ fortunes spin like a compass altered by a nearby magnet.
One day, they are invincible, winning games by scoring a dozen or more runs. Another day, they’re routed in games ended by the aptly named mercy rule.
The reality? Trinity is a team right in the middle of the pack, one that can either catch fire or get burned.
Saturday’s twin losses to Olivet Nazarene University were examples of the latter. The Trolls got shut out 8-0 in the opener and were fortunate to score once in the nightcap, where they fell to a 9-1 defeat.
Game 1 lasted six innings, Game 2 merely five, as the Tigers pounded Trinity pitchers early and often.
Olivet scored its eight runs in the opener on 14 hits. It tallied twice in the third inning, three times in the fourth, and then made it 6-0 in the fifth.
Two more runs in the sixth gave the Tigers an eight-run margin and triggered the mercy rule. That occurred an inning earlier in Game 2, thanks to a four-run fifth, which came on the heels of four other scoring stanzas. Olivet plated single markers in each of its first three at-bats, then pushed across two in the fourth.
The setbacks left Trinity at 10-8 overall entering this past Monday’s CCAC game against Judson University.
Prior to their trip to Bourbonnais, the Trolls put together a five-game winning streak, beginning with the second game of a doubleheader against Calvin College. The string of successes included 14-3 and 12-4 romps past Trinity International University in Trinity Christian’s first two conference games of season, as well as 7-4 and 8-6 conquests of Wheaton College on Friday.
The second game versus Wheaton was halted on account of darkness after five innings.
The Trolls piled up 49 hits to create their 41 runs in those four games, the timeliest safeties coming in the wins over Wheaton. Natalie Cannizzo’s two-run double and Mattie McGuire’s RBI single broke a 3-3 tie in Game 1 and put Trinity Christian ahead to stay, while singles by Cannizzo and Tori Grzincic and Adrianna Puente’s double all knocked in runs during a five-run splurge in the fifth inning that erased Wheaton’s 1-0 lead in Game 2.
The routs of TIU were decided early and late. The Trolls shoved nine runs across the plate in the second inning of Game 1, but overcame a 2-0 deficit in Game 2 with a five-run fourth inning and then piled up six more runs in the seventh, a rally aided by a trio of Trojans errors.
Four different pitchers picked up wins in the four games, depth Trinity Christian coach Missy Bolhuis will need during the heavy schedule of April, which was necessitated by all the weather-based rescheduling from March.
• The Numbers: 10-8 overall, 2-0 CCAC, 3-1 home, 0-2 road, 7-5 neutral. Leaders (through April 6): Natalie Cannizzo, .400 average, .500 slugging percentage; Anna Phillips, 23 hits, 3 steals; Cannizzo, Phillips, Bailan Reynolds, 7 RBI; Brianna Brugioni, 1 HR; Brugioni, 5 wins, 36 strikeouts, 0.90 ERA.
• Schedule: Today, at St. Xavier University, 3 p.m.; Friday, Ashford University Tournament, Clinton, Iowa: vs. William Penn University, noon; vs. Robert Morris University, 5 p.m.; Saturday, vs. Viterbo University, 10 a.m.; at Ashford, 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday, vs. Roosevelt University, 3 p.m.; Wednesday, vs. Cardinal Stritch University, 3 p.m.; April 17, at Olivet Nazarene University, 3 p.m.
TRACK & FIELD
The Trolls are beginning to show some depth.
That was seen at Saturday’s Huntington Invitational in Indiana, where Trinity’s men’s team finished fourth and women’s squad took sixth. Andy Reidsma raced to victory in the 1,500-meter run for the men as he completed the event in 4 minutes, 2.9 seconds, and Matthew Schaap gave the Trolls another first place in the javelin with his throw of 132 feet, 1 inch.
Occupying the runner-up positions in their respective events were Cody Velthuizen in the 3,000-steeplechase (10:21.75) and the 400-relay quartet of Schaap, Chris Morse, Jason Nagelkirk and Robert Wood, who clocked a 45.22. Morse also took third in two races, finishing there both as an individual in the 100-dash (11.32) and as a member of the 1,600-relay team, where he joined Reidsma, Chris Paepke and Marcus Devers in posting a time of 3:26.22.
Chris Kouvatas gave Trinity another third after finishing the steeplechase in 10:39.02.
As usual, Anna Bos was the top female Troll as she captured the title in the 5,000 with an NAIA-qualifying time of 17:31.87. However, Ashley Jourdan (1,500) and Courtney Kalous (800) gave Trinity two more victories, the latter doing so in a school-record time of 2:19.09.
Supplying third-place finishes for the Trolls were Jessica Disselkoen (11:47.90) in the steeplechase, Emily Dykstra (1:10.27) in the 400-hurdles, and the 1,600-relay unit of Jourdan, Kalous, Justine VanDyk and Brooke Hamilton, who teamed up to produce a 4:13.88 clocking.
Both the men’s and women’s squads will be take part in the Benedictine University Invitational on Saturday in Lisle. A few Trinity athletes will also compete in Friday’s Chicagoland Championships at Lewis University.