PORTSMOUTH – Baseball could not take advantage of good pitching efforts from Calvin Sluberski and Zak Esposito on the day and dropped both games to the Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson. With both games seemingly up for grabs Shawnee State could not find the timely hit as the Blue Raiders took advantage in a Mid-South showdown at Branch Rickey Park.
If there was one inning that the Bears could forget on the day it would have been the sixth inning. In both games, the No. 12-ranked Lindsey Wilson (21-13, 9-5) used a big sixth inning to help sweep the Bears. In game 1, Shawnee State (18-17, 4-8) allowed three runs in the sixth to lose 3-1 before allowing seven runs in the sixth in game 2, losing 10-2.
In game one, the Bears took advantage of the Blue Raiders mistakes early. After Tyler Bice reached on a walk Joe Henderson hit a sharp ground ball that was misplayed allowing Bice to give Shawnee a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
Leading 1-0 heading to the bottom of the third inning Shawnee State had another opportunity to add to their lead. Colin Keim (1-for-3) singled to right field after Bice reached base on a fielder's choice. After Henderson grounded into a fielder's choice the Bears had Bice on third but were unable to take advantage.
Sluberski, who started on the mound in game one, tossed five scoreless innings allowing only one hit keeping a 1-0 lead heading into the sixth inning.
However, the Blue Raiders finally broke through in the sixth inning. Lindsey Wilson scored three runs on four hits with a Shawnee State error to hand them a 3-1 score.
Sluberski (1-1) finished the day throwing 8.0 innings allowing three runs –two earned runs – on eight hits while striking out three batters. Nolan West came into relief and pitched a scoreless ninth inning not allowing a hit.
In game two, trailing 2-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth the Bears once again took advantage of the Blue Raiders mistakes. Jake Lankheit reached first base after his fly ball was dropped in the outfield. Zack Reed then followed with a single and advanced to second on a wild throw. With Lankheit on third and Suydam on second (pinch runner) Jordan Maier grounded to second, scoring Lankheit. Todd Queener then followed with a sacrifice bunt squeeze to tie the game at 2-all in the fifth.
Starting pitcher, Zak Esposito, allowed two runs on only three hits in the first five innings he tossed keeping his Bears in the ball game. It was the sixth inning once again that proved to be the deciding inning in the game as Lindsey Wilson was on the attack.
The Blue Raiders used only three hits to score seven runs in the sixth to extend their lead to 9-2. It was the most runs that were scored in an inning the entire weekend by either team as it was too much for the Bears to overcome.
Esposito (2-3) finished the day throwing 5.1 innings allowing four runs –three were earned—striking out four batters and walking two.
Shawnee State will be on the road this Tuesday, March 26 against Miami-Hamilton University before returning home on Friday, March 29 in a MSC showdown against the University of the Cumberlands at Branch Rickey Park.