PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – Baseball got a walk-off single from Daniel Katayama with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to claim a 3-2 victory against Rio Grande in the Mid-South Conference opener for both teams on Friday. The Bears (8-7, 1-0 MSC) trailed the RedStorm (4-8, 0-1 MSC) by a 2-1 score after the first inning and that score would stand until the bottom of the eighth inning when a stolen base led to a pair of Rio Grande errors on the same play, knotting the score at 2-2.
The RedStorm got on the board with two runs in the top of the first inning off of Shawnee State starter Derek Moore. A leadoff single and walk put two runners on board before an RBI single from Kyle Findley scored the game's opening run. A fielder's choice put runners on the corners with two outs but a passed ball would allow an unearned run to score, making it 2-0 before SSU came to bat.
Katayama would get the Bears' half of the first started with a one out single. After a deep fly to right field, the inning stayed alive on a passed ball strikeout that put runners on first and second with two outs. Blake Maines then came up with the big hit, driving in an unearned run to make it 2-1 after just one inning.
After both teams scored in the opening frame, the game quickly transitioned into a pitcher's duel for the rest of the afternoon. Moore would end up retiring the side in order four separate times in the game. His biggest jam after the initial inning came in the fifth when Rio Grande loaded the bases with one out. However, a double play on a grounder to first came home to cut down the run at the plate and also nabbed the batter going to first and avoided any further damage. Moore would end up going 8.1 innings, allowing six hits and two runs (one earned), while striking out four.
However, Rio Grande starter Eric Deitsch was just as sharp as he went eight full innings, allowing just four hits and two runs (neither of which were earned). He struck out 10 batters on the day. Despite strong outings from both starters, both of them would receive a no decision after the Bears tied the game in the eighth.
Following two quick outs in the eighth, Katayama reached on a walk to keep the inning alive. Mitchell Lendenski came on to run for him. He would swipe second base during the ensuing at-bat. The throw to second went into the outfield and Lendenski dove into third head first. However, the centerfielder also could not come up cleanly with the ball and Lendenski bounced up and scampered home with the game tying run after a stolen base and two errors on the same play.
Rio Grande would chase Moore from the game after a one out single and dropped fly in the outfield put runners on first and second. This brought SSU closer Mason Wisner over from first base to try and shut the door on the rally. He would do just that with a fielder's choice and a strikeout with a runner on third.
The RedStorm replaced Deistch with Mike Ford at the beginning of the ninth inning and he would retire the SSU side in order, forcing extra frames. Rio Grande would get back-to-back one out singles in the top of the 10th, but a grounder to second was turned into the Bears' second twin killing on the day, setting the stage for the bottom half of the frame.
SSU started the top of the 10th with Brady Hightchew reaching on an infield error. He was cut down on a fielder's choice, but Brady Page remained at first. Dalton Tinsley then singled and advanced to second after the throw home held Page at third base. This set the stage for Katayama. He dropped a single into short right field to score Page and seal the Bears' 3-2 victory.
Wisner picked up the victory, the first of his SSU career, after throwing the final 1.2 innings. He allowed just two hits, struck out one, and stranded his two inherited runners from the ninth inning. Ford took the loss for Rio Grande. He allowed just the one unearned run on two hits.
These two teams will be back in action with a doubleheader on Saturday to wrap up the three-game series. First pitch for tomorrow is set for 12 p.m. noon.