March 11 - FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the final day of the Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Myers, the Hiram baseball team matched their win mark from a season ago, earning a doubleheader sweep of the US Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday morning.
With the sweep, the Terriers moved their record to 7-3 on the season. The record marks their best start since the 2004 campaign, matching a team that finished the season with a mark of 20-15.
The Terrier pitching staff was once again on display in the doubleheader. This time, however, the starting pitchers shone brightest, as both freshman Hank Clegg and senior Brandon Chesmar tossed complete-game performances.
The duo combined to allow just two earned runs in 14 total innings of work. They allowed only eight hits to the Mariners, and just one for extra bases. The pitchers also walked only three batters while totaling 12 strikeouts throughout the day.
Hiram earned a 6-1 victory in the opening game as Clegg took the mound for his second-career start. The freshman tallied his first collegiate win, throwing seven innings while striking out seven and allowing just three hits. The complete game marked the first by any Terrier in 2017.
More impressively, however, is that the game didn't start in the young righty's favor. Merchant Marine hopped on the board first in the home half of the first inning, getting back-to-back hits from leadoff hitters Matthew Thomson and Steve Lucy.
From there, however, Clegg allowed just one hit over the final 25 batters to throttle the Mariner batting order.
The Terriers gave their starter some run support in the late stages, as Hiram knotted the game in the fifth inning. After Will Howell led off the inning with a walk, he was moved to second on a sac bunt by Eric Martin. Following a wild pitch which moved Howell to third, pinch runner John Reid was brought home on a bloop single by Bryan Engdahl.
Hiram would blow the game open in the sixth. With two batters on following hits by Chesmar and Alex Perrella, Brian Fryda looped a double to shallow right field. Both runners scored and, following a throwing error, Fryda came all the way around as well, tacking on three more runs.
Freshman Chet Waddell then reached on a two-base error, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a RBI groundout by Martin, giving Hiram the 5-1 lead.
The Terriers tacked on one more in the seventh, as Perrella singled home Brandon Gros to round out the scoring at 6-1.
Chesmar and Perrella were hard to stop at the plate, as the duo combined to hit 6-for-8 with a pair of runs scored. Engdahl also finished with a pair of hits and a RBI, while Fryda finished with a pair.
In game two, Hiram scratched out just three runs, but that was more than enough for Chesmar who wove his own complete-game gem.
Like Clegg, Chesmar went seven full innings, but did not give up a single free pass throughout the game. He allowed just five hits, all singles, and one earned run while striking out five. The complete-game performance marked the second of his career, and he needed just 65 pitches to accomplish the feat.
On offense, Chesmar helped his own cause, posting a RBI groundout in the bottom of the first to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead. Hiram the extended the lead as Engdahl scored on a passed ball in the third inning.
After Chesmar gave up his lone run in the fourth, Hiram added to their advantage by tacking on one more in the bottom of the fifth.
Despite posting just four hits, the Terriers earned the win, marking their second doubleheader sweep of the spring trip. Hiram also swept Lakeland University on Tuesday afternoon.
Hiram will head back north and have a week off before getting back in action on Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19 at the Muskingum Invitational. The Terriers will compete against Bluffton (12 p.m.) and Muskingum (3:30 p.m.) on Saturday, before facing off with Penn State-Behrend on Sunday afternoon.