Crimson Pride baseball competitive in DH loss

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

IU Columbus’ Lane Zohrlaut throws a pitch in a baseball game against Asbury at Ceraland in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

IU Columbus baseball is getting closer.

The Crimson Pride’s losing streak reached 13 games on Wednesday with a River States Conference doubleheader loss to Asbury (Kentucky). But in the 12-6 and 7-4 setbacks, IUC was more than competitive.

“We’re underdogs in every game,” IUC coach Scott Bickel said. “We’re still young. We have a lot of guys on the field that are freshmen. There’s a lot of positives that happen.”

Lane Zohrlaut, a freshman from Jennings County, started on the mound and went five innings in the first game. Asbury jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but the Crimson Pride battled back to tie it at 6-6 after five innings before Asbury scored five in the sixth.

Ethan Guire went 3 for 4 with a double, Johnny Sewell went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and John Codner went 2 for 5 with two RBIs in the opener.

In the second game, Peyton Blinn went 3 for 4, and Brevin Barker went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. Griffin Stromberg, the second of four IUC pitchers, took the loss in relief of Gavin Haltom.

“Free bases hurt us today,” Bickel said. “We had 20-plus free bases in the first game — walks, hit-by-pitches, errors. We didn’t play clean, and you have to play better than we did to win a game. We were close twice, though. We were competitive.”

The Crimson Pride, who stole four bases in the first game and three in the second, have been one of the top base-stealing teams in NAIA each of the past two years.

“Our guys have the freedom to run,” Bickel said. “We emphasize it. It’s something we try to specialize in. We run the bases really well, and I’m proud of that. We hustle. “

IUC (10-37, 2-19) wraps up the regular season with a single game Friday and a doubleheader Saturday at IU Southeast.

“They’re sitting No. 2 in the conference right now and are a very good team,” Bickel said. “They’re hunting for the top spot, and we get to go down there and see if we can change the script on them, see if we can do some cool things down there.”

The Crimson Pride are in sixth place in the RSC’s West Division and would face the third-place team from the East Division in the first round of the RSC Tournament. West Virginia Tech currently is in third place in the East.

“That’s good experience for us, to see what tournament play is going to look like,” Bickel said. “If we face West Virginia Tech, we have to beat the best. So we can fail a little bit in the season in preparation for the tournament. We’ll live with the failures as long as we learn from them.”