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Yellow Jackets Split Doubleheader with Finlandia

Yellow Jackets Split Doubleheader with Finlandia

FORT MYERS, FLA. -- The Defiance College baseball team knocked off the Finlandia University Lions in game one, 1-0, but fell in the nightcap, 9-6, in a doubleheader in Fort Myers, Fla. on Tuesday.

Junior Troy Konwinski (Allen Park, Mich.) threw a complete game in his first career start on the mound for the Purple and Gold (4-1), tossing seven innings of five-hit baseball, while striking out six hitters. 

Finlandia (1-3) hurler Joey Krug cruised through the first four innings, getting 12 straight outs after allowing two hits to start the contest. Konwinski cruised through with similar dominance, although allowing baserunners in each of the first four innings. 

The Yellow Jackets were able to break through in the fifth inning, as Tyler Weaver (Defiance) became the first baserunner since the first inning with a walk. The next batter, sophomore Ben Bucklew (Archbold), singled him over and they both advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. After Jude Neary (Toledo/Cardinal Stritch Catholic) walked to load the bases, Michael Gilliland (Napoleon) drove in Weaver for the game's lone run, giving Defiance the 1-0 lead. 

Konwinski was dominant in the final three innings, allowing just one walk while striking out four batters en route to closing out a 1-0 Defiance victory.

The Lions hit the scoreboard early in game two with a pair of runs in the opening frame off of freshman pitcher Michael Reese (Constantine, Mich.). Defiance got one run back as junior Garrett Sierra (Defiance) walked, advanced on a balk and wild pitch, before scoring on a double play that was hit off the bat of Konwinski to cut the lead to 2-1 after an inning. 

Finlandia continued their streak of hot bats, adding five runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take a 9-1 lead, but the Yellow Jackets started their rally with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Gilliland started the inning with a single up the middle and Konwinski knocked him in with a double to left center field. Konwinski came around later in the inning and scored on a fielder's choice by freshman Nate Kaffenbarger (DeGraff/Indian Lake) to cut the deficit to 9-3 after four. 

The Yellow Jackets continued chipping away in the sixth inning, as the Glen Collier (Zionsville, Ind.), Tanner Stippich (Lima/Allen East), and Kaffenbargger got a walk and two singles, respectively to load the bases. Weaver walked to score Collier and a base-hit from junior Kody Fuller (Wabash, Ind.) knocked in Stippich as Defiance trailed 9-5 and brought the tying run to the plate, forcing Finlandia into their bullpen. 

Sierra was able to knock in Kaffenbarger with a sacrifice fly, but Defiance could do no more damage as the Lions escaped the jam and maintained a 9-6 edge through six frames. Freshman Cohen Nies (Logansport, Ind./Lewis-Cass) threw his third scoreless inning to keep the deficit at three runs, but Defiance only managed one baserunner in the bottom half, as Stippich was hit by a pitch, as Defiance dropped their first game of the season.

Defiance sprayed six total hits in game two as six different players represented each of those hits. Sierra got on base twice with a pair of walks, while Weaver also reached base twice with a base hit to go along with his free pass.

On the mound, Reese struggled in his first outing, allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 2.2 innings. He was followed by freshman Daniel Tomalak (Tecumseh, Mich./Clinton), who allowed two runs, one earned in 1.1 frames. Nies came on in strong relief, allowing just one hit in three innings while striking out a pair of Lions.

Defiance will take a rest day in Fort Myers before returning to action on Thursday, Mar. 8 with a pair of seven-inning contests against the St. John's (Minn.) University Johnnies. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Player Development Complex field number three in Fort Myers, Fla.