The Shawnee State baseball program got the Mid-South Conference Tournament Opening Round off to a good start, powering to a 6-3 upset win over Cumberlands (Ky.) to start the best-of-three series, but couldn’t close the deal against the Patriots as the Bears’ series came to an end with 8-1 and 7-1 losses on Sunday.
In the first contest, Cumberlands got the game started with a run in the bottom of the first inning, as Kevin Pantoja led off the inning with a walk. Jesse Reyes bunted Pantoja over to second, and Reed Spata’s grounder allowed Pantoja to advance to third. Chase Schmittou then drove in Pantoja with a single to give the Patriots an early 1-0 lead.
However, Shawnee State struck back to take the lead in the top of the second. Nick Rose (SO/Olentangy, Ohio) led off the inning with a single, and Andrew Dito (SR/Loraine, Ohio) followed by hitting his first career home run. By doing so, Dito’s timely shot gave Shawnee State a 2-1 lead.
The Bears then added a run apiece in both the fourth and fifth innings to extend their lead. With two outs in the fourth, Sam Gerhold (JR/Shelton, Washington) singled and was followed by a Casey Claflin (JR/Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio) double to put SSU up 3-1. In the fifth, Christian Helton (SO/Lexington, Ky.) singled to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Noah Gapp. After advancing to third on a groundout by JT Boggs (JR/South Shore, Ky.), Chase Thurber (SO/Andover, Ohio) doubled in Helton to push the Shawnee lead to 4-1.
In the fifth, Christian Helton (SO/Lexington, Ky.) singled to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Noah Gapp. After advancing to third on a groundout by JT Boggs (JR/South Shore, Ky.), Chase Thurber (SO/Andover, Ohio) doubled in Helton to push the Shawnee lead to 4-1. Brandon Reaman (SR/Dayton, Ohio) put the first contest out of reach in the top of the seventh with a two-run home run to make the score 6-1. Cumberlands got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh on an Andrew Ramos two-run homer, but the Bears held the Patriots scoreless in the eighth and ninth to clinch the first game victory.
Fittingly, Derek Moore (SR/Wheelersburg, Ohio) put together one of his best outings of the season in what would be his final collegiate start for the Bears as the Wheelersburg native put together a complete game outing for Shawnee State. Through nine innings, Moore would allow only three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits. The lefty struck out five to get the win. Noah Gapp allowed six runs on eight hits in seven innings to take the loss.
On Sunday afternoon, however, Shawnee State wasn’t as fortunate, as the Bears fell to Cumberlands (Ky.) 8-1 in game two and 7-1 in game three of the Mid-South Conference Tournament’s Opening Round.
The Bears started game two off well, scoring a run in the top of the first. Reaman led off the inning with a single and was followed by back-to-back walks from Boggs and Thurber to load the bases with nobody out. Rose followed by driving in a run with a single, but Shawnee State stranded the bases loaded as the Bears came away with just one run in the frame.
Cumberlands then responded with a run in the bottom of the first, as Pantoja notched an infield single to lead off the frame and advanced to third base on a wild throw. After Jesse Reyes was hit by a pitch, Reed Spata grounded into a double play to drive in Pantoja and tie the score.
Cumberlands took the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Spata led the inning off by reaching on Gerhold’s error at second base, and Chase Schmittou was plunked by a pitch to put two on. Landon Byron bunted the runners over, and Roberto Prado launched a sacrifice fly into the outfield to drive in Spata and move Schmittou to third. Schmittou followed by scoring one batter later on a double by Bryan Benz, who also scored on Guillermo Villegas’ RBI single to make the score 4-1. The Patriots then scored four additional runs — three in the bottom of the fifth — to put the second game out of reach.
Manny Castellano would come up big for Cumberlands, allowing only one run on six hits in eight innings to get the win. Tyler Straley allowed seven runs, five of which were earned, on five hits in five innings to take the loss.
With the series evened at 1-1, Cumberlands raced into the lead out of the gate, scoring three in the bottom of the second. Chase Schmittou and Landon Byron led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and with one out later in the frame, a wild pitch allowed Schmittou and Byron to advance a base. The wild pitch wouldn’t matter as Bryan Benz pounded a three-run home run to straightaway center field to give Cumberlands a 3-0 lead.
Shawnee State responded with a run in the top of the third, as Boggs doubled to right field with two gone and Thurber followed by driving Boggs in to make the score 3-1. However, a RBI double by Andrew Ramos in the bottom of the third allowed the Patriots to open the lead back up to three runs and Cumberlands followed by tacking on two in the fourth and one in the fifth to close out the Bears, winning the opening round series two games to one.
Zach Hurley threw five and two-thirds innings of relief, allowing no runs on three hits and striking out four to get the win. Kyle Warner allowed three runs on four hits in one and one-third innings to take the loss.
The losses see Shawnee State finish the season with a record of 14-35, with a 6-12 record in the Mid-South Conference. Cumberlands improves to 39-15, with the Patriots advancing to play at the Mid-South Conference Tournament final site in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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