Bluffton 6, Franklin 2
March 20, 2015
By: Ryan Schadewald, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University baseball team finally played their home debut and made it count, as they opened HCAC play with a 6-2 victory over Franklin College on Friday, Mar. 20. Bluffton used a stout seven-inning performance from senior hurler Nate Simonds (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln) in the winning effort. The Beavers improved to 8-5 and 1-0 in conference play, while the Grizzlies fell to 5-6 and 0-1 in the conference.
Senior Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison) put the Beavers on the scoreboard in the second inning, hitting a solo shot to deep center field for a 1-0 lead with his first dinger of the season. After the Grizzlies tied it in the top of the third, the Beavers scored two more thanks to selfless hitting by three seniors in the heart of Bluffton's lineup. Mike Castro (Reynoldsburg) laid down an attempted sacrifice with runners on first and second. The Franklin defense was unable to make a play, loading the sacks for Townley who hit a ground ball to the right side for a 2-1 advantage. Michael Alexander (Monroe) squeezed home Tyler Spalding (Willis, Mich./Lincoln) to give Bluffton a 3-1 lead after three frames.
The Grizzlies pulled within a run in the top of the sixth inning, but Bluffton responded quickly in the home half. Luke Hickey (Toledo/Whitmer) singled to left, scoring Clayton Siders (Delaware/Worthington Christian) who walked and took second on a wild pitch. Hickey came around on an RBI double from Mike Castro as the Beavers went up 5-2. The home team added an insurance tally in the eighth inning on another deep ball over the center field wall from senior Tyler Spalding, his first of the campaign.
Bluffton’s Nate Simonds improved to 3-1 on the year with the victory, throwing seven innings and giving up just two runs on five hits while striking out three Grizzlies. Corey Johnson (Waverly) entered to start the eighth and earned a two-inning save, the first of his career, by striking out three and allowing one hit and a walk in his two frames. Franklin’s Seth Powers fell to 0-1 after going 5.1 innings and giving up five runs on eight hits.
Bluffton was led by Castro’s 3-for-4 effort, including his RBI double in the sixth. Townley also drove in two runs for the victors, including the homer. Spalding finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Luke Hickey went 2-of-4 with two runs and an RBI as well.
The Beavers continue the three-game series as they play a doubleheader against the Grizzlies on Saturday, Mar. 21. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. Come out to Memorial Field to support your Beavers!