PORTSMOUTH – Baseball picked up two more wins on Saturday against rival Rio Grande to finish off the series sweep against the RedStorm. The Bears (10-7, 3-0 MSC) notched a 5-3 win in the opening game before another walk-off win with Daniel Katayama (SR, Sao Paulo-Guarulhos, Brazil) at bat in the second game, 5-4.
Zak Esposito (SR, Sandusky, Ohio) got the start for the Bears in the opening game and he was solid from the start as he did not allow a hit until the fifth inning when the RedStorm's Chris Ford beat out an infield single. However, he was caught stealing in the next at-bat to nullify that result.
As Esposito was putting up zeroes on the scoreboard, the Bears give their right hander an early 1-0 lead after a Brady Hightchew (SO, Newport, Ky.) single and Brady Page (JR, Las Vegas, Nev.) hit by pitch put two runners on base. Hightchew would come around to score the game's first run on an RBI single from Katayama.
That would be the only scoring until the seventh inning. Leading off the top of the seventh, Marcus Makuch made the RedStorm's second hit of the day a big one as he homered over the right field fence to knot the game at one.
However, the Bears responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. After a leadoff single and subsequent pick off put one away, Mason Wisner (JR, Bay Village, Ohio) and Brandon Blackwelder (JR, Cantonment, Fla.) singled to put runners on the corners. Page later singled home the first run in pinch runner Mitchell Lendenski (SO, Loveland, Ohio) with two outs. The second pinch runner of the inning - Alex Shears (FR, Lucasville, Ohio) - later scored on a wild pitch, while Dalton Tinsley (JR, Kokomo, Ind.) and Katayama also had RBI singles to make it 5-1 after seven innings.
The RedStorm would add a run in the eighth off and a run in the ninth, both of which came with two outs. Esposito picked up the win after going eight strong innings, allowing just four hits and two earned runs. He struck out five batters and walked just one. Wisner picked up the save. After striking out the first two hitters, he allowed two hits and a walk but slammed the door with his third strikeout in as many outs to finish off the game one victory.
The Bears also got an early jump on the scoreboard in game two as Tinsley led off the bottom of the first inning with his first home run in a Bears' uniform. SSU added another run in the third off of a Rio error after Page started the frame with a single.
Three singles and a sacrifice fly tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning for the RedStorm. Shawnee State answered back with a run on a wild pitch and later sacrifice fly to take a 4-2 lead into the seventh and final inning.
The RedStorm scored its first run with two singles and a hit by pitch. This situation brought Wisner on to try and pick up his second save of the day. With the bases later loaded in the inning after a ground ball saw all hands safe, Kyle Findley singled into left to bring home a run. However, the second run was called out at the plate for running over the catcher to keep the score at 4-4 after he had jarred the ball loose. A groundout to third would end the Rio threat without any further damage.
Hightchew led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and Page laid down the sacrifice bunt. However, the RedStorm went for the lead runner and got neither out. Tinsley was then hit by pitch to load the bases. For the second straight day, Katayama came up with a chance to win the game and he would again deliver. With a grounder to short, the RedStorm had to cut down the run at the plate, but the head first slide from Hightchew got in before the catcher could cleanly handle the ball and SSU walked off with a win for the second time in the series.
Wisner picked up the victory after the Bears rallied in the bottom of the seventh. He pitched .2 innings and allowed just one hit. Cody Strayer (SO, Worthington, Ohio) took a no decision after 6.1 innings of work.
Baseball is scheduled to be back at home this Tuesday against Kentucky State. That single game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start time.