LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – For the second straight day, baseball held leads late against Georgia Gwinnett but once again the Grizzlies were able to work their late inning magic as they swept the doubleheader to take all three game from the weekend set. The Bears dropped the opening game of the day 4-3 when the Grizzlies scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to walk off with the win. In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bears were holding a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom in the seventh before Georgia Gwinnett scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth in the eventual 7-4 victory.
In the opening game, freshman Derek Moore made his collegiate debut and did not allow an earned run in his six inning of work. He did concede one unearned run on four hits. He also struck out eight batters, while allowing just one walk before being lifted in favor of the bullpen prior to the seventh inning.
Moore set down each of the first seven hitters that he faced, including five strikeouts among those first seven batters. He would end up stranding two singles in the third and eventually set down the side in order during three of the first four innings.
Georgia Gwinnett singled to lead off the fifth inning and Moore issued his only walk of the day to the next hitter, putting runners on first and second with nobody down. The Grizzlies would then attempt a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position with one down; however, a wild throw to first would allow the runner from second to score before Moore stranded those two runners with a strike out and a fly out to center.
Shawnee State answered with two runs to take the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Ryan Queener and Todd Queener both singled, putting runners on first and second. A groundout back to the pitcher would move the runners to second and third for Blake Maines as he singled into right to put the Bears up 2-1.
The Bears tacked on another run in the seventh when Dustin Bickmeyer was hit by pitch with one out. Mitchell Lendenski came in to run for him and would promptly steal second. Lendenski advanced to third on a groundout before scoring on a two-out wild pitch, making the score 3-1. Georgia Gwinnett got one of those runs back after a leadoff single came on an unearned run to make it a 3-2 game heading into the eighth.
Holding a 3-2 lead in the ninth, the Bears threatened again as Maines led off the inning with a single before Bickmeyer and Brady Hightchew would work two out walks. However, the Bears would leave the bases loaded after a fly to left got the Grizzlies out of the inning.
Georgia Gwinnett would triple to lead off the bottom of the ninth. However, Nolan West – who came on in relief in the seventh inning – would induce a ground ball back to the pitched and a fly to short left that forced the runner to hold a third. However, the two-out RBI from Garitt Church would tie the game at three-all. After a walk put runners on first and second, the Bears made a call to the bullpen but Ty Abbott would provide an unpleasant welcome as he singled on a 2-1 count to bring home the game-winning run.
In the second game, the Bears would get another quality start from senior Zak Esposito. Esposito would also end up going six innings. He surrendered just two earned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out four.
The Grizzlies would score the game's first run in the bottom of the first after a leadoff double came around to score on a bases loaded bunt attempt. The Bears would answer with two in the second inning after Maines and West both drew walks and moved up on a passed ball. Brandon Blackwelder would bring the first run home on a sacrifice fly to centerfield while West would score an unearned run following a defensive miscue during the next at-bat.
The Bats would go silent until the bottom of the sixth when a leadoff single came around to score on a two-out walk and RBI single for the hosts. However, the Bears again answered back with a run of their own after single from Blackwelder to start the inning while Jake Cain, Ryan Queener and Todd Queener all walked in succession to force home a run.
Georgia Gwinnett took the lead with three straight two-out hits in the bottom of the seventh. After a pair of singles extended inning, Christian Van Camp doubled home those two runs to make the score 4-3. The Grizzlies added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth when Church cleared the bases with a double that brought home a previous single, walk and hit by pitch.
Shawnee State would threaten in the ninth after two quick outs. The Queener brothers both singled as Todd drove home Ryan after he had moved to second on a wild pitch to make it 7-4. Mason Wisner would also work a two-out walk but those two were stranded as a groundout to second stamped the weekend sweep for Georgia Gwinnet.
Baseball will be back in action next weekend as it travels to Dayton, Tenn. for the Bryan Invitational. On Friday, February 7, the Bears will play a neutral site doubleheader against Madonna beginning at 11 a.m. On Saturday, they will play host Bryan College in a 3 p.m. doubleheader start time.