COLUMBIA, Ky. – Shawnee State baseball was eliminated from the Mid-South Conference Tournament as the Bears were shut down with a 2-0 loss at the hands of St. Catharine. With the loss, the Bears are eliminated from the tournament with a 2-2 record, while St. Catharine advances to play top-seeded Georgetown for a spot in the tournament championship against Cumberland.
Right from the opening inning, the game was one of missed opportunities for Shawnee State as the Bears left 12 runners on base. Todd Queener (SR/Mentor, Ohio) led off the game with a triple, but two straight infield ground outs and a strikeout would strand him. Just one inning later, Jake Cain (SO/Cold Spring, Ky.) singled and Brady Hightchew (SO/Newport, Ky.) walked to put runners on first and second. A ground out with one away put those runners in scoring position, but a great play up the middle by the Patriots' second baseman on a line drive off the bat of Brady Page (JR/Las Vegas, Nev.) denied the Bears again.
On the other hand, St. Catharine was very efficient offensively in the early going as the Patriots manufactured their only two runs of the game in the second and third innings. A leadoff infield single was bunted into scoring position to start the second. A one-out single then scored the game's first run. In the third inning, the Patriots put their leadoff man aboard following a hit by pitch. He was bunted into scoring position and scored on a two-out hit.
Shawnee State had another opportune chance to score in the top of the sixth with Blake Maines (FR/Burlington, Ky.) reaching on an infield error and Cain singling through the hole at short to start the inning. A bunt moved those runners into scoring position with out. After a strikeout put two away, Dustin Bickmeyer (SR/O'Fallon, Mo.) just missed extra bases with a foul ball down the right field line before he was retired on a ground out.
Despite the offensive struggles with runners on base early in the game, no play was more heartbreaking than the top of the seventh. With one out, Todd Queener singled back up through the middle. Ryan Queener (SR/Mentor, Ohio) then stepped to the plate and delivered a shot that would have traveled well over the left field fence, but a leaping grab by the Patriots' gold glove left fielder Harold Diaz denied the Bears the game-tying home run.
In the eighth, the Bears would strand two more runners with a two-out single from Hightchew and subsequent error in the following at-bat before a force out at third base. The Bears would also bring the potential game-tying run to the plate in the ninth when Todd Queener singled with one out. However, St. Catharine retired the next two batters to once escaped unharmed, claiming the 2-0 victory.
With both teams having used three starters, it probably would not have been predicated as a pitcher's duel before the game, but that is exactly what transpired. St. Catharine's Cody Alvey pitched seven shutout innings of five-hit baseball to pick up the win. Trenton Claunch and Jake McCoy pitched the eighth and ninth innings with McCoy recording his ninth save of the season.
Taylor Smith (SO/Crestview Hills, Ky.) got the start for the Bears. He pitched the first three innings. Ryan Valentine (JR/Springboro, Ohio) went 2.2 innings and did not allow a run before Nolan West (SO/Olivehurst, Calif.) came on for two outs. A day after throwing 123 pitches, Zak Esposito (SR/Sandusky, Ohio) came back with no rest and retired all five batters that he faced in the game.
The Bears finish their season a 33-26, the sixth-most wins in program history. The season is the fourth 30-win season in the last five years under Head Coach Ted Tom.