Beavers stay perfect at 4-0 with Monday wins
March 6, 2017
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - It look some late game heroics, but the Beavers were up to the task when they rallied for victories over 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifier Mitchell and Ohio rival John Carroll on Monday, March 6. Bluffton scored runs in the seventh and ninth innings to drop Mitchell 3-2 before five unanswered tallies in the eighth and ninth propelled the Beavers to a stunning 5-4 victory over JCU at Port Charlotte. The 4-0 mark equals the best start in Bluffton University baseball history (1973)!
Bluffton scored a run in the first and Mitchell countered back with two tallies in the bottom of the frame, but the offenses went dry until the top of the seventh when junior Ryan Golden (Findlay) laced a one-out triple and scampered home following a Luke Kail (Waynesfield/Sandy Valley) sacrifice fly to right which knotted the game at 2-2.
Tanner Hodges (Taylor, Mich./John F. Kennedy) came around to score the game-winning run in the top of the ninth after Luke Hickey (Toledo/Whitmer) singled with two outs.
Hickey paced the offense with three hits and he scored a run. Senior Austin Every (Zanesville/West Muskingum) limited Mitchell to two unearned runs on two hits in six innings of work. He fanned four and walked five but did not factor in the decision. Taylor Gambrell (Bowling Green) fired three shutout frames for the victory. Gambrell struck out three and walked one batter.
A John Carroll tally put the Crusaders up 4-0 midway through the eighth inning. Austin Prosser (Galion) led off the home half with a base knock and Luke Hickey followed with a two-bagger down the left field line, putting runners on second and third. Ryan Golden lifted a one-out sacrifice fly to center and Blake Fox (Berne, Ind./South Adams) singled home Hickey, making it 4-2 heading to the ninth.
JCU went three up and three down in the final frame, setting the stage for a wild bottom half that saw the Beavers rally for the 5-4 victory! A Dennis Szalai (LaGrange/Keystone) sacrifice bunt moved Tanner Hodges and Luke Kail into scoring position with one out. Prosser singled home Hodges but Kail was thrown out trying to score from second. Clayton Siders (Delaware/Worthington Christian) followed Hickey's single with a run-scoring base hit to center, tying the game at 4-4. Golden finished what he started an inning earlier, picking up Hickey for the game-winning run as the Beavers crossed the dish five times in the final two innings!
Hickey went 3-of-4 with two runs scored, while Golden drove in two, including the game-winner! Brantley Curnutte (Hilliard/Davidson) was not involved in the decision, but he worked a quality start, allowing three runs on five hits in six solid innings. Dante D'Andrea (Westerville/North) earned the victory with three frames on one-run relief. D'Andrea, who did not issue any walks, struck out two after Curnutte piled up six whiffs.
Bluffton returns to Fort Myers for a 12 p.m. meeting with Rockford at Terry Park 2 on Tuesday, March 7.