PORTSMOUTH – Baseball used a five-run first inning to pace its victory in the opening game of its weekend set with Bluefield on Saturday. The (RV) Bears (25-12, 11-7 MSC) led the rest of the way after those five runs in a 9-5 final. The Rams (25-12, 8-10 MSC) got three of those runs back in the top of the second, but would never come any closer than that over the final seven innings.
Derek Moore (FR/Wheelersburg, Ohio) got the start for the Bears and set down the first two batters he faced via strikeouts before a fly to centerfield stranded the Rams' only runner of the first inning. Shawnee State would then quickly get to work in the bottom of the first.
Todd Queener (SR/Mentor, Ohio) led off the bottom half of the first with a double, while Ryan Queener (SR/Mentor, Ohio) reached on a walk. Daniel Katayama (SR/Sao Paulo-Guarulhos, Brazil) drove in the first run of the game on an RBI single, while Blake Maines (FR/Burlington, Ky.) walked to load the bases. Mason Wisner (JR/Bay Village, Ohio) then singled into centerfield driving in another run, while a walk to Dalton Tinsley (JR/Kokomo, Ind.) forced in a run and made it 3-0 as not one Bears' hitters had been retired through the first six batters. A double play ball during the next at-bat scored the fourth run of the inning, while Wisner capped that scoring frame as he scored on a wild pitch.
Bluefield came right back in the top of the second. A leadoff single and walk put the first two runners on base. After a fly out to left, Kahlin Villines hit a three-run home run just to the left of the screen in centerfield, cutting the SSU lead to 5-3.
The Bears answered back in the bottom of the third with two runs of their own. Tinsley worked a one-out walk to get things started. Brady Hightchew (SO/Newport, Ky.) followed that up with a double into left-centerfield that scored Tinsley. Hightchew came around to score as Dustin Bickmeyer (SR/O'Fallon, Mo.) doubled the other way into the right-centerfield gap, making the score 7-3 after just three innings.
After a fast and furious start to the game, both team's starters would begin to find their groves. The Rams got a home run off the bat of starting pitcher Zach Russell-Myers on the first pitch of the fifth inning. However, the Bears would answer with a run of their own in the sixth. Ryan Queener singled and came around to score on a single by Katayama after an error in the outfield, making the score 8-4 after the sixth inning.
Shawnee State added its final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth. Bickmeyer singled into right field with one out in that inning. Alex Shears (FR/Lucasville, Ohio) would come on to run for him. Shears then scored after Todd Queener singled and his ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Moore would only get stronger as the game progressed. He pitched perfect fourth, seventh and eighth innings. The only hit Moore surrendered in the sixth was a two-out infield single. However, with 111 pitches after his eight innings of work, Moore would give way to Wisner in the ninth.
The ninth inning would not be routine by any stretch as the Rams started it off with a walk and single to put their first two runners aboard. However, Wisner would come back to get the two Bluefield hitters that homered earlier in the game. Wisner got Villines to go down swinging, while retiring Russell-Myers on a pop up to second. However, a walk loaded the bases and the Rams would get a run as the next batter was hit on a two-strike pitch, forcing in a run. Wisner then stranded the bases loaded with a grounder to second base in the next at-bat as the Bears finished off the 9-5 victory.
Moore improved to 8-1 on the year as he scattered seven hits and allowed the four runs on the two home runs. He struck out eight and walked one. His counterpart, Russell-Myers, took the loss. He pitched a complete game despite throwing 142 pitches in the game.
These same two teams will be back in action tomorrow at Branch Rickey Park with a noon doubleheader to finish out the three-game set.