Mount St. Joseph 14, Bluffton 9
April 25, 2014
By: Blade Tackett, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team entered its three-game series against Mount St. Joseph Friday, April 25, 2014 with high hopes for a successful weekend as the Beavers were just a half game out of fourth place and only two games out of second place in the Heartland Conference. An error-filled first frame and another big inning by MSJ in the eighth dropped the Beavers to 18-16 overall and 10-10 in the HCAC while MSJ jumped to 12-19-1 and 7-13 in the HCAC.
The game started in MSJ's favor as Bluffton struggled in the field. Four hits and four errors later, the Beavers found themselves down five heading into the bottom half of the first inning.
Bluffton did not waiver as senior David Ianiro (Highland Heights/Mayfield) and freshman Clayton Siders (Delaware/Worthington Christian) led off the inning with consecutive base hits. An error by MSJ and a big double by junior Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison) put Bluffton right back in the game as they cut the lead to one heading into the top of the second. Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) and Michael Alexander (Monroe) both plated runs as Bluffton made the score 5-4.
The Beavers took the lead in the third with a two-run single from junior Jeff Roth (Bellevue). MSJ was quick to tie it up on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth. A two-RBI triple by Mike Castro (Reynoldsburg) in the sixth shifted the momentum back to Bluffton as they felt some comfort entering the seventh-inning stretch.
A five hit, six run eighth inning by Mount St. Joseph stunned the Beavers. The onslaught began as Matt Hoffman doubled and Kyle Vennemeier reached on a throwing error. Pinch hitter Ronold Cotton stepped to the plate and drove an 0-1 offering over the wall in right center for a 10-9 lead. Three runs later, MSJ was up 13-9 heading into the bottom of the frame. The Beavers had no answer the next two innings while the visitors tacked on another run in the ninth for a final of 14-9.
Townley and Castro both went 3-of-5 to highlight the Bluffton offense. Townley drove in two runs and scored twice. Siders, Webb, Roth and Christian Vail (Lucas) all chipped in with two hits, while Webb, Castro and Roth all drove in a pair of runs. Webb scored twice for the Beavers.
Nate Simonds (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln) battled through the first inning defensive deficiencies, leaving after five innings with the game knotted at seven. He allowed seven runs, just one earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts. Freshman Corey Johnson (Waverly) tossed two shutdown innings but was saddled with the loss after giving up three runs on two hits with three walks and a strikeout. Taylor Gambrell (Bowling Green) limited MSJ to one run on four hits in two innings of solid relief.
Bluffton and Mount St. Joseph cap the series with a Memorial Field doubleheader on Saturday, April 26, at 12 p.m. Bluffton will look to bounce back with a couple of wins to stay in the hunt for its first-ever Heartland Conference tournament berth.