LEBANON, Tenn. – Baseball turned a 5-1 deficit into a 9-5 victory during game two of its doubleheader with No. 10 Cumberland to win the weekend series on the road. With the Bears (13-10, 5-1 MSC) victory on Friday, they took two of three from the Bulldogs (14-7, 3-3 MSC). Coming into the weekend, SSU was 0-8 all-time against Cumberland. The Bulldogs salvaged one game on the weekend with a 5-4 victory in 12 innings with a walk-off home run to start that frame.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in game one after three straight hits with one out in the second inning made it 1-0. Cumberland then added two more runs in the sixth inning on three more hits to make it 3-0 after six full innings.
Shawnee State finished the game with a 12-11 edge in hits during the opening game and had six base hits through the first six innings. However, the Bears would finally capitalize in the eighth inning. Blake Maines started the inning with a one-out single. Mason Wisner followed that up with another single, while Dalton Tinsley worked a walk to load the bases. A pop up on the infield put two away, but pinch-hitter Jake Cain blasted a grand slam, the first home run of his season, to give the Bears a 4-3 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth inning.
Cumberland would however force extra innings with a run in their final at-bats. A walk and double to start the inning put runners on second and third with nobody out. The Bears would intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases. On a ground ball to the infield, the Bears traded a double play for the run, before another ground ball got them out of the inning.
Each team would leave two runners on in the 10th and one runner on in the 11th inning. The Bulldogs worked a leadoff walk in the 11th before the Bears went to the bullpen and called on Cody Strayer in relief of Wisner. A sacrifice bunt moved that runner into scoring position but Strayer would issue an intentional walk and induced a double play to escape the inning.
The Bears would go down in order in the 12th and CU's Brady North promptly ended the game with a walk-off home run to start the 12th inning.
However, Strayer would bounce back in the second game to pick up a complete game victory, keying a Bears' series victory. Shawnee State's right hander allowed a CU run in the bottom of the first. After a two-out run in the opening frame, the Bulldogs earned three more unearned runs after a two-out error in the second to make it 4-0 after two innings.
Todd Queener started off the Bears' fourth inning with a leadoff home run, his third of the season, making the score 4-1. However, the Bulldogs answered back in the bottom half to make it 5-1 after the fourth inning, in what was the seven-inning game of the series.
With the Bears running out of time to make something happen, Head Coach Ted Tom called his whole team into the dugout prior to the fifth inning. Something he said must have resonated as Ryan Queener and Brady Hightchew started the inning with back-to-back singles. An error during Dustin Bickmeyer's at-bat scored the first run of the inning. Brady Page then walked to load the bases and an RBI groundout pushed the second run of the inning across. The same scenario then played out again as Daniel Katayama walked and Nolan West recorded an RBI groundout to trim the lead to 5-4 after five innings.
Strayer promptly answered with a shutdown inning in the bottom of the fifth and Shawnee State would add two more to take the lead in the sixth. Ryan Queener and Hightchew again started the rally with a one-out double and single. An RBI groundout from Bickmeyer knotted the score at 5-all. Pinch-hitter Brandon Blackwelder then followed that up with an RBI single through the right side to give the Bears their first lead of the second game. Once again, Strayer came back with a 1-2-3 inning and the Bears took a lead into the final inning.
The Bears added three more insurance runs in the top of the seventh as Ryan Queener, Hightchew and Bickmeyer all had RBI hits to make it 9-5. That was more than enough for Strayer as he hit the first batter of the inning but erased that with a double play ball. He then fielded a grounder right back at him for the final out of the game.
Strayer was awarded the win after going the full seven innings. He allowed just seven hits and two earned runs. He did not surrender a hit over the final three innings en route to his second win of the season. Todd Queener and Bickmeyer each had two RBI in the second game, while Ryan Queener and Hightchew each scored two runs and drove in another for the Bears' offense.
Baseball will be back at home this Tuesday against Point Park in doubleheader that will get underway at noon. That date has been rescheduled from the original date of Wednesday due to the threat of inclement weather.