After three straight losses to start this weekend’s four-game home set with Ellsworth, the Southwestern baseball team battled back and picked up a 4-3 extra-inning win over the Panthers to close out the weekend here Sunday.
The Spartans dropped games of 12-3 and 12-1 to the Panthers on Saturday, and struggled in a 17-2 loss in the opener on Sunday.
Ellsworth scored nine runs in the second inning of Sunday’s opener, all of which were unearned. The Panthers went deep twice in the inning, including a grand slam.
“They just swung the crap out of it,” head coach Brian “Bull” Smith said. “We didn’t do anything on the mound to help our cause, either. I told (Bill) Krejci and (Steve) Westphal, I thought they might have been the best offensive team we’ve faced this year.”
But Southwestern found a way to slow down the Panther bats in the final game of the set, thanks to the strong pitching of Jason Roberts of Alton, Ill.
“We got a great start out of Jason on the mound,” Smith said. “We played pretty clean defense. It’s always a little easier to play clean defense when you’re getting good pitching.
“He just pitched great. All three pitches working, around the plate. I think he topped out around 90 on the mound. We finally got a break. Our kids hung in there.”
The game went to extra innings tied at 3-3. Sophomore Alessio Pena led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single, and then Ethan Westphal singled through the left side.
Pena was headed from first to third as the ball bounced over the outfielder’s glove, allowing Pena to score the winning run.
“I thought Alessio swung the bat pretty well,” Smith said. “Jason Roberts swung the bat OK. There wasn’t a lot of offense. We figured out a way. Devan Wicks had three hits. Tyler Engelhardt kept hitting doubles.”
Southwestern now sits at 3-14 overall and 1-7 in the ICCAC.
The Spartans return to action Saturday with a twinbill at Iowa Central. The Spartans will also play two against the Tritons on Sunday.