Alma, Mich. - The Alma College baseball team suffered a 5-4 setback to visiting Hope College on Wednesday (May 11) afternoon in the first round of the MIAA Baseball Tournament at Klenk Park.
Alma (27-14 overall) will now face regular-season champion Adrian College in an elimination game on Thursday, May 12, at Adrian's Nicolay Field, while the Flying Dutchmen (23-17) advance to face Kalamazoo College at Noon on Friday. Kalamazoo defeated Adrian, 2-1, in Wednesday's other first-round matchup.
Alma built a 3-0 advantage after five innings behind the strong pitching of junior Alex Valasek (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic Central) and the bats of junior Alex Peczynski (Farmington Hills, Mich./Detroit Catholic Central) and senior Dayne San Miguel (Wheeler, Mich./Breckenridge/Kellogg CC).
San Miguel put the Scots on the board in the bottom of the fourth when he hit an RBI single to score senior Doug Walters (Brighton, Mich./Brighton), then Peczynski followed with an RBI single of his own at the next at-bat to score San Miguel and give Alma a 2-0 lead.
Walters added the third run for Alma in the bottom of the fifth when he singled to left field, scoring sophomore Matthew Minaudo (Clinton Township, Mich./De La Salle Collegiate) to make the score 3-0.
Valasek allowed only one hit through the first six innings, but Hope broke through in the top of the seventh, scoring three times and adding another two runs in the top of the eighth to end his day. With the Dutch holding a 5-3 advantage, Walters pulled the Scots within one run when he connected for his second career home run, clearing the left field fence to make the score 5-4. Walters finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Alma was able to get the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but relief pitcher Eric Plaehn was able to close the door for the Dutch, striking out the final two batters to seal the win. Plaehn, who entered the game in the top of the bottom of the eighth after Walters' home run, struck out seven of the eight batters he faced.
Valasek finished the game after 7.1 innings and took the loss after recording six strikeouts, while senior Blake Ordiway (Holly, Mich./Holly) threw the final 1.2 innings for Alma, fanning three batters. Jake Chipka (5-5) picked up the win for the Flying Dutchmen, while Plaehn was credited with his first save of the season.
• Alex Peczynski extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
• Dayne San Miguel has recorded a hit in each of his last 10 outings.
• Doug Walters hit the second home run of his career and first since his sophomore campaign.
• Walters has 35 RBIs this season, two away from the school record held by Mark Gilling, who recorded 37 during the 1988 campaign.
• Alex Valasek has thrown 75.2 innings this season, which ranks second in Alma College history for the most innings pitched in a season. The record holder is Alma College Hall of Famer Hans Martin, who worked 77.0 innings in 1987.
• Valasek also has 64 strikeouts this season, which ties him for fifth on the Alma College single-season chart with Mike Burns (1976).
• Blake Ordiway made his 18th appearance of the season today, becoming only the second pitcher in Alma history to make 18 or more appearances in a single season.
Head Coach Jake Sabol
"It was a good game, a tough game and a battle all the way through. Their two guys threw really well. We knew coming in that we would face a tough arm and they have a couple of guys at the top of the rotation that shut us down a little but the last time, so we knew it was going to be tough. Late in the game we beat ourselves a bit, which is tough to come back from, but we had our chances to take the lead at the end and at least get guys on base and in scoring position. They did a good job of making one more play than we did."