PORTSMOUTH – Baseball got back on the winning path in dramatic fashion Tuesday afternoon against Indiana University Southeast as the Bears (17-14) walked off the Grenadiers (10-12) in both ends of the doubleheader. IU Southeast was receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Poll. The Bears scored two times in the eighth inning of a scheduled seven inning game to take the opener, 3-2, which was capped by Aaron Suydam's walk-off single. The second game saw Tyler Bice deliver the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning during the 8-7 victory.
The first game saw both pitching staffs hold the opposing offenses in check as neither team would push an earned run across the plate until the eighth inning. Taylor Smith got the start on the mound for the Bears in game one and set down six of the first seven batters that he faced. However, the Grenadiers would strike first in the third. After a leadoff single to start the inning, a wild pick-off throw to first would allow that runner to get to third before scoring on an infield groundout.
The Bears put a runner on in each of the first four innings, including a pair of hits in both the second and third innings. They would finally breakthrough in the fifth. After a leadoff walk to Suydam, Todd Queener looked to bunt him into scoring position but all hands were safe after a wide lob to first. Reaching third on that play, Suydam would score on the second error of the inning on the next play, tying the game at one.
Smith would end up going 6.2 innings and allowing just six hits and the unearned run before giving way to Brandon Bonar with a runner on second with two outs in the seventh. Bonar would get that runner to ground out to short. A Suydam walk to start the seventh put a runner on. He was forced out during the next at-bat, but two walks later the Bears had the bases loaded and just one out. However, a line drive hung up and the runner on second was doubled off to end the threat.
The Grenadiers would take the lead in the extra inning after a two-out RBI triple in the top of the eighth, but SSU came right back in the bottom half. Cody Spires doubled to start the threat and Daniel Katayama was given the intentional pass to put the game-winning run on base. Jordan Maier bunted those runners into scoring position with one out while Jacob Lankheit's RBI groundout to first tied the game at 2-2.
Stepping up to the plate with two down and Katayama on third, Suydam watched the count go to 2-2 before a hard-hit ball at the third baseman. Right at the final second, the ball took a high hoop and bounced off the fielder's chest and Katayama would score the game-winning run. Bonar picked up the win in relief as he went 1.1 innings for his first career victory at Shawnee State.
After a low-scoring first game, the Grenadiers scored two in the first and two more in the second of game two, including a leadoff home run to start the first inning. However, the Bears stayed close with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. IU Southeast would add on one more in the third as it scored in each of the first three innings but Nolan West would come on to pitch two scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth.
During that time, the Bears took the lead with another three-run inning in the fourth. Singles by Maier and Ryan Queener put two on with one out while a walk by Todd Queener would load the bases. Tyler Bice would single home the first two runs of the inning while the final would come home on an RBI groundout by Joe Henderson. The Bears would also score a run in the fifth after a bunt base hit by Maier.
Indiana Southeast retook the lead with two more in the top of the sixth after a pair of two-out walks came around to score after a wild pitch and two-out single to make the score 7-7. The Bears would put runners on first and second in the bottom half of the inning but a groundout to the pitcher ended that threat.
Jordan Williams came on for the final out in the sixth inning and allowed just one base runner to reach via an error in the top of the seventh. The second game also appeared headed to extra innings after two quick outs to start the Bears' seventh. However, Todd Queener would beat both the both the pitcher and first baseman to the bag on an infield chopper that both the fielders charged to keep the inning alive.
He would waste no time getting into scoring position as he swiped second base, setting the stage for Bice. Entering his final at-bat of the afternoon, Bice already had three hits in four trips to the plate with two RBI. However, his fourth hit of the game would be the biggest hit yet for him and his teammates as he dropped a single into right-center and Queener scored from second on the play, giving the Bears back-to-back walk-off victories.
After a pair of thrilling victories Tuesday night, the Bears will host Ohio-Chillicothe tomorrow night at 4 p.m. before the weekend series at home with Lindsey Wilson.