Franklin splits for final berth in HCAC tournament
May 3, 2014
By: Josh Burkholder, sports information assistant
FRANKLIN, Ind. - The Bluffton University baseball season came to end against the Franklin College Grizzlies on Saturday, May 3. Bluffton needed to sweep the doubleheader in order to get into the conference tournament, but was unable to win the opener, falling by a score of 12-5. In the second game, the Beavers wrapped up the 2014 season with a 7-6 victory, finishing with a winning record of 21-18 and 13-12 in the Heartland Conference, good enough for 5th place. With the split, Franklin moved to 24-15 and 15-10 in the HCAC, securing the coveted 4th and last seed in the conference tournament.
In game one, Bluffton struck first with a two-out RBI single from JAKE TOWNLEY (Mansfield/Madison) in the top of the first inning. Franklin roared back with a five-spot in the second and scored one each in the third and fourth to take a 7-1 lead. The Beavers and the Grizzlies traded runs in the following two innings, with TYLER SPALDING (Willis, Mich./Lincoln) hitting his first home run of the season to lead off the fifth, and then freshman LUKE HICKEY (Toledo/Whitmer) and Townley both notched doubles in the sixth, with Townley picking up the RBI.
Franklin added three more in the seventh and eighth, extending its lead to 12-3. Bluffton attempted to rally in the ninth, starting with a Spalding leadoff double, a wild pitch and an RBI groundout from T.J. DEVORE (Grove City). Senior CHRISTIAN VAIL (Lucas) followed with a solo homer, but that's where the rally came to a close, and Franklin did what it needed to do with the 12-5 victory.
Senior BEN ROESCHLEY (Graymont, Ill./Flanagan) concluded his Beaver career with three innings on the mound, allowing six earned runs while picking up the loss, finishing the season with a 4-2 record. DYSON BOWMAN (Coshocton) and TAYLOR GAMBRELL (Bowling Green) worked the five innings of relief, surrendering three and two runs, respectively.
Townley, Spalding, and DAVID IANIRO (Highland Heights/Mayfield) finished the game with two hits apiece for the Beavers.
Franklin led off the second contest with an unearned run. Their lead was short-lived, however, as Bluffton came back on an RBI single from MIKE CASTRO (Reynoldsburg) in the second and a two-run blast from senior TIM WEBB (Delaware/Worthington Christian) in the third, giving them a 3-1 advantage. Franklin responded with a run in the bottom of the third frame and two in the fourth to regain the lead in the see-saw affair.
Bluffton took the lead for good in the fifth as AARON YOUNG (Shelby) belted a two-run homer. The Beavers would add two more in the sixth on a JEFF ROTH (Bellevue) bases-loaded walk and an RBI single from Young, making the score 7-4. The Grizzlies tried to come back, scoring two in the eighth. Ianiro had other thoughts, however, shutting Franklin down in order in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his school-record ninth save of the season.
JAYLEN VON SOSSAN (Ottawa/Ottawa-Glandorf) started the game for Bluffton but did not figure in the decision after giving up three earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. COREY JOHNSON (Waverly) picked up the win, going two shutout innings to improve to 2-4 on the year. BRAD SCHLABACH (Fredericksburg/Hiland) also saw two innings of relief, allowing one earned run while striking out three.
Young had a monster game at the plate, going 3-of-4 with three hits, including his second dinger of the season, and three RBI. Webb contributed with a two-hit, two-RBI effort, while Devore checked in with a pair of singles. Ianiro, Townley, Spalding, Castro, and Vail each added a base knock as Bluffton finished the game with 12 hits.
With the 21 wins, Bluffton equaled its single-season record set last season. They managed to break the school record for wins in conference play though, tallying 13, which bested the previous mark by one. Overall, a great season for the Beavers. Thanks for all of your support!