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The Scarlet & Black

Tinkham fans 16 Blueboys, ties school record

Teague Towner ’16 bats against Coe College on Tuesday, April 15. Photo by Aaron Juarez.

After two pitching gems, one individual record and a wacky heartbreaker, the Grinnell baseball team concluded this past weekend with two wins, two losses and a tie for first place in the Midwest Conference South Division. The Pioneers split two doubleheaders in Springfield, Ill. against Illinois College on Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, giving them a 12-14 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in MWC play.

After Grinnell dropped the opener by a score of 1-7, Sam Tinkham ’16 made sure that the Blueboys stayed off the scoreboard for most of the second game. Tinkham tied the school record for most strikeouts in a single game with 16, while going the distance for nine innings of seven-hit ball, resulting in a 9-2 Grinnell victory.

“Sam has consistently been a good pitcher, but this time, with his ability to throw three pitches for strikes and keep the ball down, that was huge for him,” said head coach Tim Hollibaugh. “He was on, man.”

Tinkham pitched eight innings without allowing a run before permitting two in the ninth, which would not have been that devastating, if it were not for a gift Coach Hollibaugh promises the pitchers when one of them throws a shutout.

“I really wanted a shutout, so the pitchers could take batting practice, but I blew that in the ninth inning,” Tinkham said.

Sam Tinkham ’16 struck out 16 batters to tie the school record for most strikeouts in one game. Photo by John Brady.
Sam Tinkham ’16 struck out 16 batters to tie the school record for most strikeouts in one game. Photo by John Brady.

However, it may not have been Tinkham’s fault. Baseball is known to be dependent on superstitions and jinxes, which may have affected his ninth inning.

“One of our first-years mentioned [the shutout] in the eighth inning and that might’ve been the death blow in the end,” Hollibaugh said.

The second doubleheader saw another stellar pitching performance, as Graham Fisher ’16 allowed just one earned run in seven and one-third innings to win the latter game of the series, 5-2. However, the most bizarre game of the day was the earlier contest. After leading 7-1 and 13-8 at earlier points in the game, the Pioneers eventually lost in an offensive battle, 19-14.

“Game three of the series was heartbreaking,” Tinkham said.

Hollibaugh noted, “I’ve been here a long time and I can’t remember a game like that,”

In the slugfest, Niko Takayesu ’17 led all Grinnell batters with five hits and three runs, while Matt Hammond ’17 added four RBIs to the offensive flurry. Anthony Mack ’16 continued to hit the ball well, going six-for-14 over the four game series with five runs, an RBI and four walks.

Teague Towner ’16 bats against Coe College on Tuesday, April 15. Photo by Aaron Juarez.
Teague Towner ’16 bats against Coe College on Tuesday, April 15. Photo by Aaron Juarez.

The Pioneers will continue with their MWC South Division play this weekend against last year’s division winner, Knox College. The players will put the highs and lows of last weekend behind them as they prepare for the coming contests.

“It’s a special feat to be in the record books like that,” Tinkham said of his strikeouts record. “[But] in retrospect, it’s just a win—part of the puzzle [and] part of the journey to the Conference Tournament, and if I go out next time and throw out a dud, it won’t mean much.”

After a weekend that saw the Pioneers twice allow two runs and once permit 19, Grinnell is looking to play consistently in all facets of its game in the coming weeks.

“We just [have to] play complete baseball,” Tinkham said. “Sometimes we pitch really well and then we don’t necessarily field and hit the greatest, and then sometimes we hit really well and we don’t pitch that well. So, we just need to put a complete effort together and I think we’re really close to doing that and when we do, it’s going to be special.”

The Pioneers have eight conference games left, four against Knox and four against Cornell. With Cornell and Grinnell tied for first place in the South Division, Grinnell’s first-place standing does not yet guarantee a ticket to the Conference Tournament, which will be hosted by the top team from the North Division on May 9-10. The top two teams of the South Division will qualify for Conference, and, fortunately for the club, Holliabugh feels that the Pioneers are only improving.

“Realistically, we’re not playing our best baseball yet, and that’s exciting,” he said. “If we can get hot here at the end, I think we have the talent to go a long way.”

Grinnell will play host to Knox College on Saturday, April 26 at 1 and 3:30 p.m., before traveling to Galesburg, Ill. to play another double-header against Prairie Fire on Sunday, April 27.

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