Despite fighting hard in a pair of contests on Tuesday, the Shawnee State baseball program fell in a pair of contests at Branch Rickey Park, falling to Milligan (Tenn.) 10-9 in game one and 1-0 in game two.
The Buffaloes got off to a hot start on Shawnee State starting pitcher Josh Eplin (SR/Streator, Ill.), getting three runs in the first inning and five runs in the second en route to building a 10-0 lead by the middle of the fourth inning. Clayton Conner notched two RBI singles and a sacrifice fly to lead Milligan in RBIs.
However, the Bears never threw in the towel, and began a frantic comeback in the bottom of the fourth. With runners on second and third and two outs, Christian Helton hit a tough grounder to third, and an errant throw from Milligan third baseman Hunter Suggs allowed two SSU runners to score.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bears struck again. With runners on first and second and no outs in the frame, Chase Thurber launched a three-run homer to left field to cut the deficit to a 10-5 margin through six innings of play.
With James West holding the Buffaloes at bay through three innings of scoreless relief, Shawnee State was able to not only keep Milligan at bay from adding any additional runs, but formulated its biggest rally of the contest in the game’s final frame.
After loading the bases with no outs, Nick Rose drove in Sam Gerhold with a walk, and a wild pitch from Milligan pitcher Justin Morefield allowed Matt Dvorscak to score as Shawnee State cut the deficit down to a 10-7 tally with the scoreboard still clear of outs and the bases loaded. Brandon Reaman followed by scoring on Thurber’s groundout to shortstop, and, after a JT Boggs strikeout, pinch hitter Brady Knittel blasted a RBI single to right center. However, Brandon Marshall popped out to end the game, as the tying run was left stranded on first.
Luke Spalding obtained the win for Milligan, allowing two runs on two hits with five strikeouts in five innings pitched. Josh Eplin allowed eight runs on nine hits in one and one-third innings to get hit with the loss. Justin Morefield would earn the save after the tying run came into the on-deck circle when he was brought into the game.
Game two would be a far different game, with pitching dominating the afternoon. Milligan would score the game’s only run on Jascanel Ferrera’s RBI single in the top of the fifth.
Cameron Sauls would have a great afternoon on the mound for the Buffaloes, allowing no runs on only two hits and striking out three in a seven-inning complete game to obtain the victory. Despite the loss, Tyler Arthur, a Morehead, Ky. native, was impressive on the mound as the junior allowed only a single run on two hits in four and two-thirds innings pitched. Jesse James and Joe Spano combined to throw two and one-third innings of scoreless relief.
With the losses, Shawnee State falls to 7-23 on the season. Milligan improves to 16-16.
Shawnee State hits the road for the weekend as the Bears travel to No. 6 Georgia Gwinnett for a three-game set. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5 p.m.