This past Saturday was one of the few chances left for Knox’s baseball team (8-21) to get on the board in Midwest Conference play.
The Monmouth College Fighting Scots were playing host and with only four conference games left going into last Saturday, Jami Isaacsons’ men of the diamond were already in a jam. An iron grey sky and Monmouth students working toward their future in work release programs looked on as Knox was beaten twice, 8-1 in game one and a 12-2 bludgeoning in game two, a seven inning mercy rule affair.
With junior Colin Davis on the mound for game one, Knox had as good a chance as any to eke out a win against their hated rivals. The team leader in ERA, innings pitched and tied for second in wins, Davis had an uncharacteristic day despite pitching seven innings.
He allowed 12 hits and three earned runs, while some defensive miscues combined with the blustery weather to allow Monmouth additional runs. He was vulnerable early before settling in, five runs crossing the plate in the first two innings.
From there, it was all downhill and the Conflagration of the Meadow could not get any offense going, held to five hits and one run on a sacrifice fly by freshman C.J. Foster that scored fellow freshman Matt Lee. Monmouth’s Robbie Hinkle, slated to pitch in the second game, was the designated hitter in game one and was 7-for-9 with eight RBIs in two games, batting and pitching in the second game as well.
When one man controls a doubleheader like Hinkle did, there was nothing Knox could do to stop him. Monmouth had four home runs on the day, as well as seven doubles and a triple, killing it on the extra base hit.
“They’re feeling good at home, we left it over the plate, and they hit it a long way,” Isaacson said.
Game two fared no better for the men of Knox. All four home runs were given up in game two, as the Flaming Offense was held in check by Hinkle, who twirled eight innings of dazzling ball, allowing five hits and two runs. Knox’s sole offense came off the bat of freshman Dexter Brown, who homered in the first and drove in sophomore David Jewell, who had walked.
Senior Tyler Hopfauf got the start in game two and lasted three innings while giving up six hits and three earned runs before senior Aaron Juarez relieved him. Juarez was decidedly unsettled, letting up ten hits and six earned runs in 2.2 innings to lead up to senior Spencer McNeil, who closed the game out allowing only one hit and a run in his outing.
The final conference series of the year is with the Blueboys of Illinois College, with Knox hosting on Saturday. If nothing else, a couple wins can give Knox the title of spoiler, the Fire having a shot to ruin IC’s season. Isaacson’s plan was deceptively simple.
“We’re going to try to find nine people that can beat Illinois College,” Isaacson said.