PORTSMOUTH – Baseball gave a scare to NCAA Division I Morehead State as Shawnee State found themselves tied on the road, 3-3, heading to the sixth inning. However, the Eagles (18-18) scored in each of their final three at-bats, including a four-run sixth inning to pull away in the 10-4 victory over the Bears (25-21). The game comes on the heels of a pair of Morehead State victories over NCAA DI No. 12 Kentucky and No. 23 Indiana during the previous week.
The Bears started the game with each of their weekend starters getting an inning of work. Derek Moore set down the side in succession, while a two-out error allowed an unearned run to score off of Cody Strayer in the second following a wild pitch. Zak Esposito then set down the Eagles in order in the third.
Shawnee State left six runners on base over the first three innings, including stranding the bases loaded in the second. However, the Bears broke through and took the lead in the top of the fourth. Dustin Bickmeyer started the inning with a leadoff walk, while a single from Brady Page put the second runner on base. Ryan Queener also drew a two-out walk to keep the inning alive before a single from Daniel Katayama brought home the first two runs of the inning to give the Bears the lead. A double from Blake Maines scored the third run of the inning before Maines was thrown out a third to end the threat.
Morehead State tied the game in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff hit by pitch and single eventually came around to score with the help of an SSU error. One of those runs would end up being unearned. The Eagles would then take the lead for good in the sixth. Taylor Smith struck out the first batter of that inning, but a wild pitch would allow him to reach first. A hit by pitch would then bring a call to the bullpen. However, after a single loaded the bases the Bears would hit the next batter and walk two more and force in three runs total. The fourth run of the inning would score on a fielder's choice before a fly out to left stopped the home half of the inning.
The Eagles scored two more runs in the seventh. A walk and single started the inning. After a foul out to third, another single scored the first run of the frame. An error allowed the second runner to advance to third base where he would later score an unearned run on a groundout.
After coming on in the sixth, Mason Wisner turned the game over to Ryan Valentine after two innings of work. The Eagles would rap three straight singles off of the Bears' sixth pitcher of the day; however, Valentine came back and got the next two batters to each strike out swinging. However, a hit by pitch forced in the fourth run of the game on a walk or hit by pitch. Valentine escaped further damage with a pop up on the infield.
The Bears scored once in the top of the ninth to make the game a 10-4 final. Page and Todd Queener started the Bears' final at-bats with back-to-back singles. A double play would erase Queener but Katayama came up with the Bears' third single of the inning to score Page.
In the end, Shawnee State outhit Morehead State 13-8 over the course of the game. However, four free passes and three unearned runs hindered the Bears' chances of the win against NCAA Division I competition. Page led the Bears with three hits in the game, while also scoring two runs. Dalton Tinsley, Bickmeyer, Katayama and Maines each finished with two hits in the game. Katayama drove in three of the Bears' four runs with the other RBI coming off the bat of Maines.
Matt Ellenbest picked up the win for Morehead State as he allowed just one hit over his three innings of work as he pitched the fifth through seventh innings. Smith suffered his second loss of the season, falling to 4-2 overall.
Baseball will resume Mid-South Conference play this weekend with Pikeville coming to town on Friday for a single game at 4 p.m. On Saturday, the Bears' open the series doubleheader at noon. The team will then host its Senior Day festivities following game one on Saturday before completing the weekend set with Pikeville.