KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Mistakes seem to be magnified when competing in the postseason regardless of the sport. The Shawnee State baseball team learned that lesson the hard way Friday morning in its Mid-South Conference elimination game against Rio Grande. Three unearned runs, which were a direct result of three errors in the field, coupled with a complete game shutout from the RedStorm's Ryan Robertson, all led to a 3-0 victory for Rio Grande and the end of the season for the Bears.
Calvin Sluberski got the start for the Bears in their second game of the weekend and retired the first five batters that he faced to start the game. Over the first three innings, he would wind up retiring all but three hitters as the RedStorm had a single and walk in the second to go along with a runner reaching on an SSU error in the third.
That error in the third would not come back to haunt them but the error in the fourth inning would. Sluberski got the leadoff batter to fly out to start that inning before back-to-back singles put runners on first and second. After a strikeout put two away, a chopper to short could not be played cleanly and left the bases loaded when the Bears should have been out of the inning. Sure enough, Vincent Perry would drive home two runs with a single to give Rio Grande a 2-0 lead after four.
The Bears had base runners with singles from Daniel Katayama and Jordan Maier in the second and third innings but those runners would be stranded. Dustin Bickmeyer and Maier would then single with one out in the fifth inning before a fly out and groundout stranded two more runners. The Bears would also strand walks to Colin Keim and Joe Henderson in the sixth inning as they left six runners on over the first six innings.
Sluberski struck out the first batter he faced in the bottom of the sixth but another defensive lapse allowed a runner on first. A single would follow that up and mark the end of the road for Sluberski who allowed five hits in 5.1 innings of work. Jordan Williams would come out of the pen to try and shut down the inning but the first batter he faced was Perry who singled home another run, his third RBI of the game, to make it 3-0 before SSU cut down a run at the plate and would escape further damage.
The Bears would also get a single from Bickmeyer in the seventh but he was erased on a double play. Ryan Queener would then single with two down in the inning before being left at first. Tyler Bice also worked a leadoff walk to start the eighth but a fly out and another double play would end that inning and be the final base runner of the game as the Bears went down in order in the ninth.
In total, the Bears got six hits and three walks off of the RedStorm's Robertson. However, they would leave seven runners on base to end the innings while Rio Grande turned two double plays.
The Bears close the 2013 campaign with an overall record of 29-28. Today's game also marked the end of the career of four senior members - Colin Keim, Jordan Maier, Aaron Suydam and Jordan Williams - who were instrumental in capturing the 2010 AMC regular season title, 2011 MSC Tournament Title and follow that up with a run to the MSC Tournament Championship Game last season.