Friends ends Tabor’s season, 3-1

Thanks to Friends starting pitcher Cale Eldridge, the Tabor College
baseball season ended in a 3-1 loss Friday in Junction City. Eldridge
and the Falcons turned a 3-run seventh into an RSVP for a Friday night
date with either Kansas Wesleyan or Sterling. But Bluejays starter
Tyler Fenton dodged bullets for six innings, inducing three double play
grounders to turn a contest that at times looked like a Falcons batting
exhibition into a pitcher's duel.

The first of the double plays
came in the top of the second, when a 4-6-3 combination wiped out a
lead single by Mike Perry. In the top of the third, Fenton allowed
back-to-back singles, combined with a sacrifice bunt, to set runners at
second and third with one out. But Fenton induced a can-of-corn pop fly
and a groundout to escape the jam.

Fenton dodged more bullets,
starting the top of the fourth with back-to-back singles before a 5-3
double play broke the back of the Falcons threat.

Behind Paul
Bridenbaugh's leadoff double, the Bluejays put pressure on Eldridge in
the bottom of the fourth. Bridenbaugh moved to third on Andrew Cook's
groundout to first base, but Eldridge struck out Mike Chaput and Matt
Pogue to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, Fenton worked
second baseman Sean Zuniga into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Tabor took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half, and narrowly missed an
opportunity to score even more: Ryan Boucher was beaned leading off,
then Dustin Dick pushed a perfect bunt down the third base line.
Boucher easily advanced to second, and with three Falcons waiting for
the ball to roll foul, Dick reached first. CJ Henrichsen dropped a
sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third for Tyson Kendrick,
who drove in boucher with a sacrifice fly to right field. But Eldridge
forced Tanner Stevenson into a 6-3 groundout to strand Dick at third.

Fenton
worked a 1-2-3 sixth and the Bluejay offense threatened again in the
bottom half. Cook's 1-out single turned into a second-and-third
situation when Eldridge threw Chaput's sacrifice bunt into right field.
With pinch runners on for Tabor's heavy hitters, Eldridge turned Pogue
grounder into a 1-2 fielder's choice that cut down the lead runner.
Another groundout stranded two Bluejays and ended the threat.

The
Falcons cracked Fenton in the seventh, with a 2-out walk sparking a
3-run rally that included a single by Joshua Tucker, an RBI double by
TJ Lawless, and a 2-run single by Zuniga.

Henrichsen hammered a
2-out double in the bottom of the seventh, but was stranded by
Eldridge, who left with a 3-1 lead. It took four relievers — Nicholas
Wilczynski, Mike Lewis, Brock Vizner and Bryan Swenson — but the
Falcons' pitching staff made the lead stand.

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