PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Baseball) – Conner Wilson (JR/San Diego, Calif.) ripped a single with the bases loaded in a 0-0 tie in the seventh inning, as the Shawnee State baseball team split a doubleheader with Cumberland University to take a 2-1 series win over the defending NAIA National Champions on Saturday afternoon at Branch Rickey Park.
Mike Watson (FR/Niles, Ohio) and Jake Collier battled back-and-forth on the hill for the two squads, as neither surrendered a run for the opening six innings, Watson took home the victory with the complete-game shutout, scattering eight hits and a walk while striking out five. Collier took the loss in 6.1 innings of work, allowing an unearned run with six hits, four walks and six strikeouts.
Cumberland threatened early in the contest, leaving the bases loaded in the second and two on in the fourth, though Shawnee State returned the favor, failing to score with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the frame. During the fifth and sixth innings, the two teams collected just a pair of hits combined, setting up the final inning heroics.
Watson worked through a one-out single in the seventh, striking out a batter before Adam Turner (FR/Lansing, Mich.) gunned out Justin Byrd attempting to steal second base.
In the bottom of the inning, Andrew Vanthournout (FR/Bowling Green, Ky.) opened with a single up the middle, and – in an attempted sacrifice situation – Mitchell Lendenski (JR/Loveland, Ohio) reached on an error. Matt Dvorscak (FR/Whiting, Ind.) followed with a perfect bunt single to load the bases, and, following a strikeout, Wilson delivered with a hit through the left side, as Vanthournout scampered home to end the contest.
The two squads were embattled in pitcher's duals all weekend, as game one was no different. The two squads remained scoreless through three innings before the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Ryan Simmons singled to plate Jonathan Larson.
Shawnee State evened things up one inning later, when Turner lifted a sac fly to right, plating Mauro Olivarria (JR/San Diego, Calif.) who reached on a leadoff walk.
The score remained locked at one until the seventh when Cumberland put a crooked number on the board. An error allowed the first run to score, as an errant throw sent Jarrett Plunkett home. Two batters later, Phil Stiles flied out to center, plating Justin Byrd.
The Bears cut the two run deficit in half when Olivarria singled in the eighth, scoring Dvorscak to make it 3-2. Cumberland responded with an insurance run in the ninth, as Stiles added another RBI – a sac fly to plate Byrd for the second time.
CU's Clint Meadows worked through a pinch hit single from Vanthournout in the bottom of the frame to finish the complete-game victory. Meadows went all nine innings, allowing two earned runs while allowing seven hits, walking three and striking out six.
Cody Strayer (JR/Worthington, Ohio) took his third loss of the season despite a strong seven innings of work. Strayer allowed four hits and just two earned runs, striking out three and walking five. Brandon Bonar (JR/Chillicothe, Ohio) worked the final two innings for SSU, allowing three hits and a run with three strikeouts.
SSU is back in action Tuesday for a mid-week twinbill with the University of Rio Grande. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at Branch Rickey Park.