COLUMBIA, Ky. – Top-seeded and NAIA No. 3 Georgetown knocked Shawnee State baseball into the elimination game portion of the Mid-South Conference Tournament bracket with a 7-3 victory in the early game Monday morning. The Tigers (40-6) jumped out in front with five runs between the third and fourth innings before thwarting a late rally from the Bears (32-25) in the eighth.
With the loss in today's early game, Shawnee State will drop down into the loser's bracket where it will meet sixth-seeded Bluefield. The Rams lost to St. Catharine to start the tournament but stayed alive with a win over Lindsey Wilson Sunday evening. The Bluefield game is scheduled to get underway at 5 p.m. EST (4 p.m. CST) at Lindsey Wilson's Egnew Park.
Monday's championship bracket contest started with each side having a chance in the opening inning. Zak Esposito (SR/Sandusky, Ohio) got out of runner on third with no out jam as he struck out a pair of runners and induced the third out on a fly ball to right field. Todd Queener (SR/Mentor, Ohio) started the Bears' half of the first with a double and was bunted over to third, but was cut down at the plate as he tried to score on a one-out grounder to short.
The Tigers would be the first on the scoreboard with a three-run third inning. A leadoff triple was then replaced on third base with a one-out triple to opening the scoring. Esposito got the second out on a strikeout, but a two-out single and error on the infield during consecutive at-bats allowed two more runs to score in the inning. In the top of the fourth, Georgetown added another run after Rick Reyes led off with a home run to left field. Georgetown made it a 5-0 game after a single later came around to score on an error in the outfield.
Shawnee State got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Mason Wisner (JR/Bay Village, Ohio) started the inning with a single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third following a ground out during that same at-bat. Brandon Blackwelder (JR/Cantonment, Fla.) then singled back through the middle to score Wisner. Dustin Bickmeyer (SR/O'Fallon, Mo.) then reached on a Georgetown error to put runners on first and second with just the one out. However, a fly ball double play ended the SSU threat without any further damage.
Georgetown came back to answer that run with a single and double by the top two hitters in its lineup to start the sixth inning, making the score 6-1. The Tigers also got the first three runners on base to start the seventh. The Bears brought Ryan Valentine (JR/Springboro, Ohio) out of the pen and he certainly did his job as he allowed just one of those inherited runners to score.
The Tigers appeared to have things under control as they retired 12 straight batters after the Bears scored in the fourth inning. However, a two-out hit by pitch to Daniel Katayama (SR/Sao Paulo-Guarulhos, Brazil) was followed by a two-run home run from Jake Cain (SO/Cold Spring, Ky.) in the bottom of the eighth. Cain's third home run of the season was the first of five straight batters to reach for the Bears. Wisner then singled following the big blast, while Brady Hightchew (SO/Newport, Ky.) and Blackwelder walked to load the bases. However, Shawnee State would leave them loaded after a grounder to short stranded all three runners in the Bears' final threat of the game.
Brian Barry improved to 9-1 on the year as he went 7.2 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits during his time on the mound. Clay Hall came on in relief for the Tigers with two base runners on in the eighth and walked just the batter in his 1.1 innings to pick up his first save of the year. Esposito took the loss for the Bears as he went six innings, striking out nine batters. Valentine worked the Bears out of the jam in the seventh, while Taylor Smith (SO/Crestview Hills, Ky.) closed the game with the final two innings of relief.