TERRE HAUTE, IND. - After a deep run into the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, the Defiance College baseball team's stellar season came to a close on Saturday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets were just one of three teams left in the HCAC Tournament on the third day of action. DC battled top-seeded Rose-Hulman to a 6-3 defeat in the tournament's penultimate matchup.
Under the direction of head coach Derek Woodley, Defiance concluded the season with an impressive 23-16-1 record, marking the most successful season for the program in over two decades.
The hosts struck first in the rematch of the second round battle. The Fightin' Engineers scored one run in the second inning as well as the fourth.
Despite the early deficit, the resiliency of the Yellow Jackets showed once again as DC broke through in the bottom of the fourth. After Ben Bucklew (Archbold) and Michael Gilliland (Napoleon) each singled, Tanner Stippich (Lima) hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Bucklew for the first DC run of the day.
After a trio of runs gave Rose a 5-1 advantage, DC came back with a run of their own in the sixth. Grant Vickery (Bellevue) drew a lead-off walk before Gilliland singled. Stippich found his way to base on an errant play, loading the bases for the Purple and Gold. With Michael Reese (Constantine, Mich.) at the plate, the sophomore pushed home the DC run after being hit by a pitch.
With one half inning left, the Yellow Jackets looked to close the three run deficit and keep their championship dreams alive.
NateKaffenbarger (DeGraff) put the first potential run on base after the sophomore drew a walk. Vickery launched a vital hit to left to drive home Kaffenbarger. Rose was able to halt the comeback efforts and seal their spot in the championship contest.
After being predicted to finish 10th, the Yellow Jackets defied the odds, finishing the season ranked third in the HCAC after the impressive regular season. The HCAC Tournament appearance marked the first for the program since 2013.