FORT PIERCE, Fla.- The Eastern Nazarene College baseball team kicked off the 2018 campaign with a pair of victories over Houghton Saturday afternoon, prevailing 15-5 and 7-2.
The Lions improve to 2-0 on the year while the Highlanders drop to 2-5 overall.
Steven Pesce (Harrison, N.Y.) posted five hits, five runs scored, and three RBIs on the day. Devin Haberstumpf (Forest Hills, N.Y.) recorded four base knocks, four RBIs, and three runs scored. Anthony Esposito (Mount Royal, N.J.) finished with five runs scored, three hits, and a pair of RBIs. Zachary Carmody (Babylon, N.Y.) notched four hits, three RBIs, and crossed the dish once. Connor Simpson (Haverhill, Mass.) landed two base hits, stole two bases, and scored a team-best six runs in the doubleheader.
In the first game of the day, Eastern Nazarene landed 16 hits to cruise past Houghton 15-5.
The Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Pesce roped a double to centerfield to drive in Simpson before scoring from third base on a groundout by Haberstumpf.
The Highlanders responded with a run in the top of the second to cut the deficit to 2-1 as Ben Closson scampered home on an error.
Eastern Nazarene chalked up four runs in the third to widen the margin to 6-1. Simpson scored his second run of the contest as Esposito laced a single to right. Haberstumpf singled to right to plate Esposito and Zach Zaino (Falmouth, Mass.) drove in Pesce with a base knock to right field. Dylan Louviaux (Mohnton, Pa.) collected an RBI with a single to left that scored Haberstumpf from third with two outs.
Houghton plated three runs in the fourth inning to pull to within two, 6-4. Ethan Duryea crossed the dish on an RBI single by Whitney Cook before Joe Zamites scored from third on a wild pitch.
The Lions scored twice in the home half of the frame to extend their lead to 8-4. Pesce raked a double to center to plate Esposito from first and came around to score on a base hit off the bat of Carmody.
Eastern Nazarene erupted for seven runs in the fifth to extend its advantage to 15-4. Carmody picked up a pair of RBIs while Esposito, Pesce, and Haberstumpf each added one RBI in the frame.
The Highlanders generated one run in the top of the sixth inning to trim the gap to 15-5. Cook tagged up and dashed home on a sacrifice fly by Tage Johnson.
Brent Houle (Westfield, Mass.) hurled five innings in his first start of the spring and registered seven strikeouts. Xavier Faria (Assonet, Mass.) threw two innings out of the bullpen in his first relief outing of the season.
In game two of the doubleheader, Eastern Nazarene triumphed 7-2 over Houghton to earn the season-opening sweep.
The Lions tallied three runs in the top of the first inning to establish an early 3-0 lead. Simpson opened the scoring as he scurried home on a fielding error in the outfield. Haberstumpf drove in Esposito from third with a single to left. Zaino landed an RBI single in left field to plate Pesce from third base.
Eastern Nazarene tacked on a run in the second to stretch the margin to 4-0 as Simpson crossed the dish on a wild pitch.
The Highlanders cut the deficit in half with a pair of scores in the fifth, 4-2. David Wessells and Taylor Huntsman both registered RBI base hits in the inning.
The Lions pushed their advantage to 7-2 with three runs in the top of the third inning. Simpson scored on another wild pitch before Matthew Urena (Flushing, N.Y.) smacked a two-run single to left to drive in Haberstumpf and Esposito.
Alex Way (Syracuse, N.Y.) tossed 4.2 innings and fanned four batters in his eighth career start. Brenndan Rogers (Hanson, Mass.) made his collegiate debut and worked 1.1 innings of relief while dealing one strikeout. Haberstumpf finished the game on the mound and struck out three of the four batters he faced.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene returns to the diamond March 5 to square off against Geneva.