Bluffton 8, Earlham 7
Bluffton scores four runs in eighth for 8-7 win over Earlham
April 10, 2012
By: Martin Kluk, sports information intern
BLUFFTON, Ohio - In an exciting finish that was slow to develop, the Bluffton University baseball team used a four-run eighth to propel the team to an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over conference foe Earlham. With the win, the Beavers improved to a season-best .500 at 13-13 with a 6-5 mark in the Heartland Conference. The loss dropped Earlham to 12-13 overall (2-9 HCAC).
The Beavers got on the scoreboard first with a two-spot in the bottom half of the second. Three straight singles by Tyler Wright (Troy), Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer) and Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) loaded the bases for Airic Steagall (Hillsboro) who smoked a double to right center, driving home a pair to take the early lead.
Earlham answered back in the top of the fourth with four runs as they got to freshman pitcher Halen Core (Reynoldsburg) after he had cruised through the first three innings. A little small-ball in the bottom half of the inning pulled the Beavers within a run when Anthony Cianci (Ravenna/Northwest) bunted Steagall to second before an RBI single by Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) cut the deficit to 4-3.
However, the Quakers grabbed the momentum back with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 7-3 lead into the seventh. Bluffton never gave up though. After a pair of singles and a walk, the bases were once again loaded with Beavers and Cianci beat out the throw for an infield single which made it 7-4 after seven.
After taking the hill in the seventh for a 1-2-3 inning, Ben Roeschley (Graymont IL/Flanagan) came out for the eighth and again downed the batters in order with a pair of punch-outs to keep the momentum rolling for the Beavers and it did. In the home half, the first run of the inning came on a bases-loaded walk after a leadoff error and two prior free passes. Then to make things more interesting, Earlham was called for catcher's interference on a full count to Webb, moving everybody 90 feet and making the score 7-6.
One out later, Steagall came up to bat and demonstrated his keen eye at the plate, drawing an RBI walk on a full-count that included two close calls. An infield fly set the stage for Niermann who came through in the clutch. As Cianci had done an inning earlier, Niermann beat out a soft grounder that the second baseman couldn't make a play on as Broyles crossed the dish for an 8-7 lead. Roeschley came back out to finish and fanned the side in the top of the ninth to seal the win for Bluffton.
The Beavers were led by Niermann, Webb and Wright who each notched two hits while Wright scored three runs. Steagall had an excellent day at the plate as he finished 1-for-2 with a team-best three RBI and three free passes. Broyles scored twice and Niermann drove in a pair of runs.
Roeschley earned his first win of the season thanks to a dominating three innings of relief, allowing only one hit while striking out five Quakers.
Bluffton travels to Anderson on Friday, April 13, for a three-game Heartland Conference series. The first contest is slated for 4 p.m. at Don Brandon Field.