PORTSMOUTH – Baseball earned a split of its doubleheader with the University of the Cumberlands at Branch Rickey Park on Saturday behind strong pitching performances from Calvin Sluberski and Jordan Williams in game one to win 3-0. The Patriots (20-14, 5-10) took the second game in extra innings, 6-5, over the Bears (22-18, 6-9).
In game one, Shawnee State followed the lead of starting pitcher Sluberski. Sluberski (2-2) tossed 7.1 innings allowing no runs on only four hits. He also added five strikeouts and allowed only extra base hit in his innings of work. Sluberski faced four or less batters in five innings out of his 7.1 complete innings thrown.
With Sluberski controlling the tempo on the mound the Bears got some help from Cumberlands on the offensive side. With two quick outs in the bottom of the third inning Tyler Bice (1-for-3) started with a walk. Joe Henderson then followed with a walk of his own. With men on first and second, the Patriots Jonathan Bobea threw a wild pitch taking an odd bounce off the backstop which rolled over to the Cumberlands dugout.
The awkward bounce allowed Bice to score from second base to hand the Bears a 1-0 lead. Henderson advanced to third base on the wild pitch. Senior Colin Keim (1-for-3) then followed with yet another walk to have men on the corners. Later in the inning, Bobea again seemed to crossed up his catcher for a passed ball which scored Henderson to give Shawnee a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
After a 1-2-3 inning pitched by Sluberski in the top of the fourth, he found himself in the biggest jam of the game in the top of the fifth. After he got the first batter to ground out control became an issue. Sluberski issued three consecutive walks to load the bases with one-out leading 2-0. However, Sluberski struck out the final two batters to leave three Patriots on base, keeping a 2-0 lead.
The Bears again would get clutch pitching in the eighth inning to protect a 2-0 lead. After Sluberski got the first batter to fly out, the second doubled. Williams came onto relief of Sluberski with one out. After striking out the first batter, the Patriots got men on the corner after a walk. With Cumberlands threatening Williams struck out his third batter he faced to end the inning.
After Shawnee added one more in the bottom half of the eighth, Williams came back into the game for the save. Williams (6) tossed 1.2 innings allowed no runs on only one hit in relief to earn the save.
In game two, Shawnee State jumped on the Patriots early with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first after starting pitcher Zak Esposito sat the side down in the top half. The first run was scored on a passed ball which was scored by Bice. Keim followed with a sacrifice fly ball to score Henderson, who doubled earlier in the inning; to hand the Bears a 2-0 lead.
However, Cumberlands who come right back and score three runs over the next two innings to take a 3-2 lead entering the fourth inning.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Shawnee scored a pair of runs to regain the lead. The Bears scored off of a one-out double to left-center field from Jake Lankheit (1-for-4) to score Spires –who reached on a walk— to tie the game. Daniel Katayama (1-for-3) followed Lankheit with an RBI single to the identical spot in the field to take a 4-3 advantage.
With a one run lead, Williams again was called upon for the second time of the day in relief of Esposito. Esposito tossed 5.2 innings allowing three earned runs on six hits.
With the lead headed to the top of the seventh, the Patriots were able to get a run across home plate after an RBI double from Jared Martin to tie the game at 4-all and forcing extra innings. Cumberlands scored two more in the top of the eighth to extend their lead to 6-4 in which the Bears could not salvage.
Henderson (2-for-4) led off the bottom of the eighth with a solo homerun to cut the deficit to 6-5. However, the Patriots got the next three batters to earn the split on the day.
The Bears will be back in action on Tuesday, April 2 against Ohio-Lancaster in a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. Shawnee State will then go on the road for a four-game trip against West Virginia Tech and a MSC showdown against (RV) Georgetown College before returning home to face Berea College on April 10.