WALESKA, Ga. – After some last minute travel changes, baseball earned a split with Reinhardt in its second trip to Georgia this spring. The Bears (4-5) got a five-hit shutout from freshman Derek Moore to pick up a 2-0 victory in the opening game. Reinhardt salvaged the split with a 3-2 walk-off victory in the bottom of the ninth inning in game two, after it was originally scheduled to be a seven inning contest.
Moore was dominant from the start in the opening game Sunday. He allowed a two-out single to centerfield in the bottom of the first before retiring the side in order in both the second and third innings. The Bears would give their right hander all the support he needed in the top of the fourth.
Todd Queener led off the top of the fourth inning with his first career home run in a Bears' uniform. That run would prove to be more than enough; however, as the Bears added on their second and final run of the game later that inning. After Queener's home run over the left field fence, Mason Wisner and Nolan West each singled, while Daniel Katayama's walk loaded the bases with nobody down. An RBI single from Brady Hightchew through the right side of the infield would make it 2-0.
Moore allowed a pair of two-out hits in the bottom of the fourth but got a groundout to third to end the inning. The Eagles also had a leadoff single erased via a double play in the bottom of the fifth. The Eagles only extra base hit of the day came in the bottom of the sixth on a one-out double but a line drive to third and pop up to short would strand that runner as well.
With the Bears still holding a 2-0 lead, Moore finished his first career complete game in convincing fashion as he did not allow a base runner over those final three innings. In picking up his second win of the season, Moore went the distance and did not allow a free pass all day, while striking out two batters.
Zak Esposito got the ball for the second game and he was not going to be easily outdone as he allowed just five hits over his first eight innings of work. The Bears again opened the scoring in the top of the fourth inning. This time, they did so with the help of the Reinhardt defense. West singled with one out to put a runner on base, while Katayama reached on an error. With runners on first and second, Hightchew again came through with an RBI single to put the Bears on the board first, 1-0.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Reinhardt scored its first run of the game, and day, as a one-out single turned into to a run. Dusty Davis got that one-out hit for the Eagles, just their third of the game. A wild pitch would move him into scoring position. With Reinhardt struggling on offense, Davis took matters into his own hands and stole third before scoring on the second wild pitch during the ensuing at-bat to knot the game at one.
The Bears left the bases loaded in the sixth, while stranding one more runner in both the fifth and seventh innings. However, Esposito would force extra baseball by retiring the side in order in both the fifth and seventh, while conceding just a two-out single in the sixth.
Shawnee State had its chances in the bottom of the eighth as the Bears put runners on second and third with nobody out, but two infield pop ups and strikeout would strand those two runners in scoring position. Esposito allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth but the Bears' defense would turn a double play on an attempted sacrifice bunt attempt before Esposito retired the next batter on an infield groundout.
Shawnee State took the lead in extra innings with a run in the top of the ninth. Dalton Tinsley walked to start the inning, while Brandon Blackwelder followed that up with a single to put runners on the corners. This time, it was Shawnee State that scored on a wild pitch, giving the Bears a 2-1 lead. However, Reinhardt would walk-off with the win after scoring twice in the bottom half of the inning.
A leadoff single and double by the second batter put runners on second and third with nobody out. A sacrifice fly tied the game at two. The Bears intentionally walked the next batter to set up a force play with one out. The Bears got a ground ball during the next at-bat but a fielding error, the first one that the Bears committed all day long, allowed the runner on second to score as the Eagles walked off 3-2 victors.
Esposito ended up going 8.2 innings and allowing seven hits and three runs (two earned). He walked two batters, while striking out three. The Bears definitely had their chances for the doubleheader sweep as they left 13 runners on base in the second game, compared to just three for Reinhardt. SSU also had a 9-7 edge in hits for the game.
Baseball will have a chance to win the three-game series as these teams meet again Monday at noon for a single game which will serve as the rubber match of the series.