Hanover 7, Bluffton 5
Ninth inning rally falls just short in 7-5 loss to Hanover
May 5, 2012
By: Martin Kluk, sports information intern
BLUFFTON, Ohio - On Senior Day and the final game of the 2012 season, the Bluffton baseball team came up just short in a 7-5 loss to the Hanover College Panthers. The Beavers were looking for the first 20-win season in school history as well as a three-game sweep of Hanover College. Bluffton posted a final mark of 19-21 and 12-13 in the Heartland Conference, while the Panthers finished at 22-17 overall (12-12 HCAC).
After Bluffton fell behind 3-0 in the first inning as a result of a pair of errors, the home team was able to cut into the lead with a little help from the Panthers. Hanover's Andrew Roby retired eight of the first nine batters he faced before he plunked Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) with two outs in the third. Roby then tried a pickoff to first and the throw got away, moving Niermann to second. Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) lined a single to bring in the first Bluffton run of the game.
With the score 4-1 after the Panthers added a run in the fourth, the Beaver offense used a little small ball to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Matt McKinney (Columbus Grove/Bath) got the inning going with a walk and he moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Doug Paullin (Jeromesville/Hillsdale). After a ground ball scooted him over to third, Richardson added his second RBI single of the day to plate McKinney and make it a 4-2 game.
Unfortunately for the Beavers, Hanover was able to add insurance runs in each of the next three innings while holding Bluffton scoreless for a 7-2 lead. However, there was no quit in the Beavers as they battled all the way to the last out. Tyler Stephenson (Springfield/Northwestern) came up to the plate with two outs and Niermann on first and reached on an error to extend the inning one more batter. Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer), hitless in his first four at-bats, roped a single to score a run. Tyler Wright (Troy) and Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) followed him with back-to-back singles to plate two more and make it an interesting 7-5 game. However, Hanover was able to induce a pop-up for the last out of the game, closing the books on Bluffton's 2012 season.
The offense was led by three returners for next season as Richardson, Wright, and Webb each notched three hits. Richardson led the way with two RBI, while Wright and Webb each plated a run.
Miles Richardson fell to 4-6 on the season after allowing four runs, just one earned, on seven hits in 3.2 innings on the mound. Senior Ryan Leugers (Botkins) threw 10 pitches, all for strikes, as he worked a perfect ninth in his final game for the Beavers.
Bluffton's seniors will graduate as the winningest class in school history with 68 victories and a plethora of team and individual records. Although the Beavers narrowly missed out on the three-game sweep, Bluffton capped the season with its eighth straight series victory of Hanover.