GEORGETOWN - After another tough start and facing a 5-0 deficit, the Southwestern University baseball team stormed back to knock off the Millikin Big Blue and win the three game series, 7-6, on Sunday afternoon at Rockwell Field.
The Pirates certainly did not make it easy on themselves, as for the third time this weekend, Millikin jumped out to an early lead after the top of the first, scoring four runs thanks to a pair of errors and free passes to take a 4-0 advantage.
Senior Will Preston had it going for the first few batters, but seemed to lose some control, on top of some fielding errors by the Pirate defense, and just couldn't recover as senior Tyler Polasek checked into the game.
Polasek (W, 2-1) did exactly what the Pirates needed, slowing down a Big Blue offense that was hitting .378 coming into the contest. Polasek proceeded to pitch 6.2 innings in relief, allowing two runs on eight hits and striking out six batters while walking none.
Still, after a Millkin run crossed in the third, the Big Blue held a commanding 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the third. However, the Southwestern offense began to turn it on as freshman Austin Smith led off with a one out single followed by senior Jason McCormack getting plunked.
Junior Cole Kelly stepped into the box and put together a tremendous at bat, fouling off multiple pitches before lacing a two RBI triple into the right field corner. One batter later, junior Colby Schmidt drove in Kelly on a sac fly to center to make it a 5-3 ball game.
Millikin got one back in the fourth, but Southwestern answered thanks to the feet of Byron Dowdell II. Dowdell led the inning off with a double and with one out, was aggressive on the basepaths and advance on a groundball to the left side of the infield. Dowdell would score on a wild pitch with two outs to make it a 6-4 game.
Polasek kept the Millikin hitters off balanced and the score remained going in the sixth, when Dowdell struck again, this time ripping a triple down the right field line. Sophomore Tyler Hull came through clutch with two down, singling to right and driving in Dowdell to make it a one run game.
In the seventh, Smith led the inning off with a single followed by a huge RBI triple by McCormack to even the game at six. Kelly then stepped to the plate and drove a deep fly ball to center, scoring McCormack, and completing the comeback as the Pirates moved ahead 7-6.
In the eighth, following a Millikin single, Polosek was replaced by Smith after a terrific performance in relief. Smith got three straight outs and moved into the ninth.
The Big Blue led things off with a double to put a runner in scoring positing with no outs. However, Smith (S, 1) battled and finished the game with three straight strikeouts to end the game and give the Pirates a thrilling victory to claim the series.
Kelly finished 1-for-2 including a triple, three RBIs, and a run scored while McCormack was 2-for-3 with a RBI triple and two runs scored. Dowdell was 2-for-3 with a double and triple as well as two runs scored while Smith had a pair of hits and two runs to show for. Hull also had a two hit game to go with a key RBI.
Jacob Hennessy (L, 1-1) took the loss for Millikin in relief while Jake Drada went 3-for-5 to lead the batters including a double and a RBI.
Southwestern moves to 5-5 overall and returns to Rockwell Field on Tuesday as they welcome in Blackburn for a 6 PM contest.