LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI/Aviators) — The Lafayette Aviators hung on to beat the Danville Dans 7-6 in their home opener Thursday.
The Aviators got off to a red-hot start. Tyler Powers (Purdue) started things off with a sharply hit single in the bottom of the first inning. Powers celebrated his birthday on Thursday.
One batter later, Brent Todys (Ohio State) connected on his first homerun of the season. In his very first at-bat, the Buckeye sent a hard line drive over the right field wall to score Powers and give Lafayette a 2-0 lead.
After Trey Sweeney (Eastern Illinois) singled and then stole second, Braedon Blackford (Carl Sandburg) doubled to center field, scoring Sweeney and pushing the Lafayette lead to 3-0. The Aviators smacked four hits in the first inning, including three in a row from Powers, Todys, and Sweeney to lead off the frame. Blackford has now recorded a hit in all seven games to start the season for the Aviators.
The Dans got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth when a miscommunication between Aviators catcher Matt Phipps (Western Kentucky) and third basemen Braedon Blackford resulted in a ball thrown into left field, allowing a Dan to score. Danville’s Bradford Powers singled to bring in another run, cutting the Aviator lead down to 3-2.
After the Aviators starter Nathaniel Tate (East Tennessee State) left the game with four innings pitched and no earned runs allowed, the Lafayette bullpen strained to keep Dans off the bases. Danville was able to put up three runs on just one hit and three walks in the fifth inning. The Dans tacked on another solitary run in the sixth after a Richard Sorrenti sac-fly.
Lafayette answered in a big way in the bottom of the sixth inning after surrendering the lead in the top of the inning. The Aviators were able to draw two walks and were hit by pitches twice in the inning. After savvy baserunning from the home team, Lafayette was able to sneak across two runs to make it 6-5. With the bases loaded and two outs, Brent Todys grounded a ball up the middle that was fumbled by the Dans’ shortstop. The play allowed two Aviators to score and take a 7-6 lead that would hold the rest of the way.
Lafayette improves to 6-1 on the season. The Aviators are back in action on Friday against the Dans. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Loeb Stadium.