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Wesleyan baseball bounces back to tie series

JEFFERSON -- Both of Wesleyan's games on Wednesday nearly followed an identical script.

For the sake of the Wolves' season, it was a good thing the plots weren't mirror images. The second-round playoff doubleheader saw Wesleyan (19-10) grab leads in each before Jefferson rallied. The Wolves split the difference, dropping the first game 8-3 before bouncing back to win the second 7-6.

Wesleyan head coach Brian Krehmeyer couldn't say enough about his team's resolve.

"We were fighting for our baseball lives today. I'm just so proud of these guys," he said. "We were ahead the whole time (in Game 2) and then we got tied there in fifth. I felt like we had to come up out of the grave after dropping Game 1."

Wesleyan's cling-to-life Game 2 victory couldn't have come in more dramatic fashion.

After the Wolves jumped out to a 4-0 advantage, the Dragons (26-3) fought back to tie it at 6-all in the top of the fifth inning. After a scoreless sixth inning by both teams, Wesleyan stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh seeking to win the game in regulation.

Sam Carver and Pierce Ostwalt made that possible.

Carver walked to get on base, and one batter later, Ostwalt came up with the game-winning double, a shot down the first base line that bounced off the right field wall. Carver rounded the bases and slid head-first into home plate, bringing his teammates out of the dugout for a raucous celebration.

And at least in this solitary instance, it was a good thing Carver disregarded Krehmeyer's orders.

"I actually had held Carver up at third base and he ran through the stop sign," he said. "And the home plate umpire said to me, 'Hey, aren't you happy teenagers don't listen to adults every once in a while?' And right now, I certainly am."

Krehmeyer wasn't nearly as pleased with his team's play in Game 1. The Wolves staked themselves out to a 2-0 edge before it all came undone in the bottom of the fourth, as the Dragons put six runs on the board. Wesleyan's pitchers hit multiple hit batsmen and issued numerous walks, while the defense had errors of its own in the 8-3 defeat.

The coach chalked his pitchers' miscues up to youth.

"Sometimes you get into a situation like this and a young man tries to do more than he's capable of or comfortable with doing," Krehmeyer said, "and I think some of the hit batsmen may have been because they were trying to do too much, trying to make the perfect pitch."

And with an all-important Game 3 on tap today, Krehmeyer is confident in the player taking the mound: Trey Mannion. He has been groomed as the team's Game 3 pitcher this season, starting every Saturday region game Wesleyan played, facing off against the likes of Westminster, Lovett and Greater Atlanta Christian.

"He's been in big situations before," Krehmeyer said of Mannion.

However, the most important aspect of today's matchup to Krehmeyer will occur in the batter's box.

"In Game 3 it comes down to the offense," he said. "Which team is really going to come out there hitting? Which team is going to find the holes in the defense?"

The third and deciding game of the second round playoff series between the Wolves and Dragons is set for today at 5 p.m. in Jefferson.