Trojans Crowned Champs amidst Capacity Crowd
UPLAND, Ind. – The 2022 Crossroads League Baseball Tournament came to close on Wednesday evening, with the No. 22 Taylor Trojans (40-16) claiming the tournament-championship for the first time since 2013.
The two seed, Taylor, squared off with four-seeded Huntington in front of a Winterholter Field capacity-crowd that celebrated a 12-to-nine championship Trojan victory.
Just prior to the trophy presentation, a five-run Forester ninth elevated the collective heartbeat of the Taylor faithful, but senior ace, Luke Shively, eventually closed the door to finalize a game in which the Trojans posted nine-consecutive runs in a two-inning stretch to steal the momentum.
That nine-run rally turned the tables on the Foresters, who jumped out to an early three-to-nothing lead over the tournament hosts.
Down three in the top of the third inning, though, the Trojans fought back, once again catalyzed by a home run hit by junior right fielder, TJ Bass. A pair of walks and a duo of singles then brought a second run in and loaded the bases, after which first baseman, Kade Vander Molen, wore a pitch on the shoulder to earn an RBI the hard way and even the score along the way.
Huntington snatched back the lead in the bottom half of the third, however, thanks to some stealthy base running by the Forester shortstop.
The five-to-four Taylor deficit lasted until the fifth inning, the point in the game at which the Trojan bats took over.
Left fielder, Jacob Morris, kicked things off with a double roped to the track in the centerfield, setting the table for an RBI-single struck by catcher, Ben Kalbaugh. The left side of the TU infield, then, Michael Pinarski and Nick Rusche, each reached base with singles, placing two men on base for Bass.
The story feels old at this point in the season, but the effect is no less exciting, as Bass belted his second home run of the game and 23rd of the season to make it an eight-to-five ballgame.
Bass’s partner in crime, Conner Crawford, sounded an echo not long after, hitting perhaps the farthest TU home run of the season to establish a four-run lead heading into the sixth.
That four-run lead quickly morphed into a seven-run edge, as Rusche and Kaleb Kolpien each tacked on an RBI after Pinarski scored on a wild pitch in the top half of the sixth.
Meanwhile, TU righty reliever, Jack Ross (4-1), was mowing through the Huntington lineup, finishing the day with four-scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Ross recorded four strikeouts in comparison to just one walk, en route to his fourth win of the 2022 campaign.
Huntington did not quit, though, placing seven-consecutive batters on base to start the ninth, plating five runs along the way. Shively, then, settled in and sat down three-straight Foresters, after which the Taylor bench cleared and pandemonium let loose.
After three-and-a-half hours of Wednesday baseball, No. 22 Taylor (40-16) earned its first Crossroads League Tournament crown since 2013, bolstering its position in the National Tournament Opening Round set to commence on Monday, May 16th.
Stay tuned to TaylorTrojans.com for more information regarding the field of competition set to travel to Upland, Indiana. The NAIA National Tournament Baseball Selection Show is scheduled for Thursday evening, May 12th.