Beavers wrap up HCAC sweep of Franklin
March 21, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team took two from the Franklin College Grizzlies on Saturday, March 21, as they capped off the series with 6-4 and 21-17 victories. The highlight of the afternoon came at the tail end of the late affair as senior T.J. Devore (Grove City) hit one off the right field foul pole with the bases loaded and two outs for the walk-off grand slam to ensure the series sweep for the Beavers. Bluffton opens HCAC play 3-0 (10-5) overall, while the Grizzlies fell to 5-8 and 0-3 in the conference. It marks Bluffton's first series victory over Franklin since 2011 and the Beavers' first sweep of the Grizzlies since 2006.
The first game started quickly for the Beavers as Luke Hickey (Toledo/Whitmer) hammered one over the center field fence, making the score 1-1. The Grizzlies went up 2-1 in the top of the third, but a run-scoring single by Michael Alexander (Monroe) plated Mike Castro (Reynoldsburg) to even the score once again. A Castro fifth-inning RBI single put the Beavers on top for the first time. Franklin tied it up in the seventh with a solo shot, but three eight inning runs for Bluffton, including a clutch two-run single from freshman Reid Maus (Hamilton/Badin), proved to be the difference as the home team earned the 6-4 game one win, clinching the series victory.
Senior hurler Brad Schlabach (Fredericksburg/HIland) threw seven standout innings, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out four, but was forced to settle for the no decision when Franklin tied it up in the seventh. Austin Every (Zanesville/West Muskingum) picked up the victory for his 1.1 innings of relief, his first win of the season. Taylor Gambrell (Bowling Green) earned his third save of the campaign after retiring the final two batters of the game.
Mike Castro’s 3-for-3 effort with a double, a run and an RBI led the Beaver offensive attack. Alexander was 2-for-4 and Hickey went 2-for-5, keeping the Beaver offense rolling as well.
The Bluffton offense knocked Franklin around early in the nightcap as the home team scored 14 runs in the first two innings. A few highlights included a two-run double from Hickey and a two-run single from Castro, a two-run triple and RBI double by Alexander, as well as a run-scoring single by Jeff Roth (Bellevue). The Beavers extended their lead in the fourth as an unearned run by Hickey gave Bluffton a 15-1 advantage after four innings.
With the game seemingly in hand, the momentum quickly turned as the Grizzlies would chase starter Kevin Every (Zanesville/West Muskingum) from the contest with eight runs in the top of the fifth. Three more tallies in the sixth trimmed Bluffton’s lead down to 15-12. The Beavers got one back on an RBI single from Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison) in the sixth to make it 16-12, but the Grizzlies pulled within a run thanks to three more in the seventh. Townley gave the Beavers another much-needed insurance run with a solo homer, his second of the series, to make it 17-15.
Franklin continued its offensive onslaught in the ninth, pushing two runs across to tie the contest at 17 entering the bottom of nine. The inning began with another base hit from Hickey before a Spalding sacrifice bunt moved him to second. After the Grizzlies intentionally walked Townley, they also walked Maus to load the bases for Devore who drove one off the right field foul pole to give the Beavers a wild 21-17 win, capping the series sweep!
The win on the mound went to Austin Prosser (Galion), the only Beaver to finish the outing without giving up a run and one of six Bluffton hurlers to see action in game two. Prosser is now 1-0 on the season.
Five different Beavers finished the contest with three hits. Hickey went 3-for-6 with five runs scored and three RBI, while Devore finished the contest 3-for-7 with five RBI and three runs scored. Clayton Siders (Delaware/Worthington Christian) was 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run, while Jeff Roth finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Michael Alexander went 3-for-6 with three RBI and a run scored.
The Beavers will put their 3-0 HCAC record on the line as they finish off a four-game homestand, taking on arch-rival Defiance College on Tuesday, March 24. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m. at Memorial Field. Come support your Beavers!