Chapman scores three in the ninth to defeat baseball 5-4 in Bobcats' season opener

Senior Matt Doyle tossed two innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen in Sunday's season opener for the Bates baseball team. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

ORANGE, Calif. -- Gavin Blodgett singled through the left side to drive in John Wiehe and the Chapman University Panthers scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Bates baseball team 5-4 Sunday afternoon in the season opener for the Bobcats.

Bates (0-1) entered the ninth inning leading the Panthers (5-2) by a score of 4-2. 

First-year Miles Michaud (Madison, Conn.) retired the first two batters in the ninth, leaving Bates one out away from victory. 

But Alex Tsuruda tripled to right field and Jarod Penniman got hit by a pitch. Wiehe doubled in both runners, tying the score and chasing Michaud (0-1) from the game. 

Sophomore Justin Foley (Lynnfield, Mass.) entered the game and surrendered the walk-off single to Blodgett.

The Bobcats jumped out to the early lead in Sunday's contest with two runs in the top of the third.

First-year Jack Arend (Newfields, N.H.) walked to start the frame. One out later, junior Asher MacDonald (Hillsborough, N.C.) reached on a fielder's choice and senior co-captain Ryan McCarthy (Plaistow, N.H.) got hit by a pitch.

Both runners advanced 90 feet on a passed ball and senior co-captain Brendan Fox (West Hartford, Conn.) came through with a two-RBI single to left-center field.

Junior Connor Speed (San Diego, Calif.) started the game on the mound for the Bobcats and tossed three innings of one-run ball. He allowed a pair of hits, walking one and striking out one along the way.

The Panthers loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the third on two hit batsmen and a walk.

But Speed escaped the jam by getting Jared Love to hit into a fielder's choice. Love's grounder to Bates third baseman Kyle Carter '20 (Plantation, Fla.) drove in a run but Carter stepped on the bag for the first out of the inning. 

Speed was able to get the next batter to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, maintaining the 2-1 advantage for the Bobcats.

First-year Nolan Collins (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) impressed out of the bullpen with two shutout innings for the Bobcats. He allowed only one hit and struck out a batter.

Senior Matt Doyle (Northborough, Mass.) entered the game after Collins and delivered two shutout innings of relief as well. Doyle surrendered only one hit and one walk.

The Bobcats added to their lead in the top of the seventh.

Senior Brendon Canavan (Carlisle, Mass.) got hit by a pitch to start the frame. He stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Senior John Dinucci (West Hartford, Conn.) drove in Canavan with a sacrifice fly to put the Bobcats up 3-1.

In the top of the eight, Fox got hit by a pitch with two outs. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single down the right field line off the bat of sophomore Daniel Trulli (Melrose, Mass.), extending the lead to 4-1.

But the Panthers got a run back off Michaud in the bottom of the eighth. With one away, Blodgett got hit by a pitch. Then with two away, Love doubled in Blodgett to cut the Bobcat lead to 4-2.

The Bobcats had a chance to get some insurance runs in the ninth but Dinucci and Arend were left stranded on the base paths. Bates left five on base and hit into two double plays on the day.

Chapman's stunning rally in the bottom of the ninth allowed Austin Merrill (2-0) to earn the win with his one inning of shutout ball out of the bullpen.

Kynan Barton started the game for the Panthers and tossed four innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits. 

McCarthy went 2-3 with a run scored for Bates. Fox finished 1-2 with a run scored, two runs batted in and a walk. Trulli went 2-4 with a run batted in and Dinucci finished 2-3 with a run batted in and a double. 

Bates tallied seven hits and drew three walks as a team. Chapman finished with eight hits and two walks. Neither team committed an error on defense.

The Bobcats look to pick up their first win of the season when they take on Occidental Monday at 4:00 p.m. eastern/1:00 p.m. pacific.