PORTSMOUTH – Head Baseball Coach Ted Tom picked up his 196th career victory at Shawnee State on Friday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Pikeville. That victory, which came in walk-off fashion, gives Coach Tom the school record for most wins in a season. Fittingly enough, that walk-off victory came just moments after Tom's coaching decision to pinch-hit Tyler Kilpatrick (SR/Coshocton, Ohio) with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for the Bears (26-21, 12-9 MSC).
Playing on senior weekend, Tom rolled with his veteran leadership and called on Kilpatrick for the biggest at-bat of his brief career with the Bears. Limited to just three at-bats this season, Kilpatrick could not have picked a better time to come up with his first career hit in a Shawnee State uniform as the senior singled into right on a 2-1 pitch, giving SSU a much needed victory in the opening game of the final home conference weekend of the year.
The game was another pitcher's duel as both teams sent their No. 1 starters to the mound. Shawnee State starter Derek Moore (FR/Wheelersburg, Ohio) began the game by retiring the first six batters that he faced. The only earned run of the evening for either side came off the bat of Dalton Tinsley (JR/Kokomo, Ind.) in the bottom of the second. Pikeville starter James Brooks retired each of the first four SSU hitters that he faced. However, Tinsley would snap that streak in a big way as he drove his team-leading sixth home run of the season over the right field wall, putting his squad up 1-0.
Pikeville tied the game in the fifth with an unearned run. A one out infield single got the frame started. A pop up to the mound after a stolen base put two away, but a bunt single extended the inning. With runners on the corners, Pikeville went for the steal of second. SSU threw down in hopes of nailing the runner to end the inning. However, the throw went in to centerfield and allowed the runner from third to score before Moore's second strikeout of the inning that same at-bat got the Bears back up to bat.
Just once in its final four times up to bat did Pikeville get a runner into scoring position. The only time that happened was in the top of the seventh when an infield single followed by a single into left put runners on first and second with both of those hits coming with two outs. However, a fly ball to right stranded those runners.
The Bears put runners in scoring position in both the fifth and seventh innings, but could not break the deadlock until the ninth inning.
Shawnee State went into its final at-bats with momentum as Dustin Bickmeyer (SR/O'Fallon, Mo.) nailed Pikeville's runner on first trying to steal after he led off the inning with a single. Pikeville went with reliever Michael Vaquera in the middle of the seventh innings. He retired eight of the first nine batters that he faced with Blake Maines (FR/Burlington, Ky.) drawing a walk in the eighth as the only runner to reach on his pitching line before the ninth inning.
With two down in the ninth, Brady Hightchew (SO/Newport, Ky.) laid down a perfectly placed bunt and beat the play out for an infield single. On the same play, the throw to try and get Hightchew at first traveled wide of the base and allowed him to reach second safely. He was then run for by Mitchell Lendenski (SO/Loveland, Ohio), while Kilpatrick took his spot in the batter's box.
After watching two straight balls go by, Kilpatrick fouled off the first strike he saw. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, the Bears' senior could not have dropped a more perfectly placed ball into right field as it fell safely between the second baseman and right fielder, allowing Lendenski to come around with the game-winning run.
Moore improved to 8-1 overall this season with the victory. He struck out a career high 10 batters in the process as he did not allow an earned run over his nine innings of work. Moore scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter en route to his sixth complete game of the season.
Baseball will be back in action tomorrow against Pikeville with a doubleheader beginning at noon. In between game's one and two, the Bears will be honoring the seven members of its senior class as part of its Senior Day festivities.