BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan baseball coach Dennis Martel got six solid innings each from Nick Brune and Quinn Gudaitis and more than he could have expected from his hitters Tuesday at Horenberger Field.
“Very happy. This is much needed,” Martel said after his Titans conquered Wheaton, 11-8 and 11-2, in a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin doubleheader. “Brune and Gudaitis were lights out. We were able to score early, get a lead and run with it.”
IWU moved to 14-12 overall and 7-5 in the CCIW while pounding out a total of 30 hits.
“Come tournament time I don’t think we’re going to be a team anybody will want to mess with,” said Martel. “I feel really good about what we can do.”
Wesleyan surged to a 6-0 lead in the opener on the strength of home runs from Ben Manski and Stephen Billington and a two-run Dalton Fletcher double.
Clay Morrison homered to lead off the fifth against Brune. Wheaton (18-10, 8-7) scored four in the fifth and two unearned runs in the sixth on a two-run Nick Mailman triple.
The Thunder grabbed an 8-7 lead in the eighth on a two-run Ben Brittain double. But the Titans countered with a four-run bottom of the inning as Fletcher, John Bosco and Billington drove in runs.
“We knew that was a big one,” Fletcher said. “As soon as they scored, we knew we had to get back in there and get hitting, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Brune allowed three earned runs in six innings. Reliever Casey Becker (1-0) was the winner with Matt Blaney working the ninth for his third save.
IWU continued to bash the baseball in the nightcap against a Wheaton pitching staff that arrived with the second best ERA (3.93) in the CCIW.
The Titans posted four in the first inning on a two-run single from Fletcher and RBI singles by Manski and Bosco.
Gudaitis breezed through the initial four frames, striking out the first four batters he faced.
“I thought Quinn was really dominating, especially the first couple innings,” Martel said. “He’s going to be a really special player. He’s just got great stuff.”
A 6-foot-6 sophomore right-hander, Gudaitis fanned 10, walked three and gave up one earned run in six innings.
“When I got ahead of hitters, that’s when I had my most success. I established my slider pretty early, and when I was able to get my fastball over was when I was able to get through innings pretty quick,” said Gudaitis.
“It’s exciting. We’re starting to figure it out at the right time of the year. It’s best to get hot at the end.”
IWU scored its final five runs (two in the fifth and three in the eighth) on only one hit. Wheaton pitchers walked four and hit two batters in those innings.