LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Even though the Shawnee State baseball program’s efforts were ultimately rendered unsuccessful in a 2-1 series loss to Georgia Gwinnett, the Bears snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday evening by defeating the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked unit, 9-8, in game one of a three-game set and fell by just one run in the additional two affairs.
On Friday evening, the Bears struck first, with Nick Rose singling home Brandon Reaman in the top of the first inning to give Shawnee State a 1-0 lead. SSU then scored another tally in the top of the third inning, when Rose drove in Reaman on a sacrifice fly.
Georgia Gwinnett scored three runs to take the lead in the bottom of the third, with the big blow being Brady Hamilton’s RBI double to drive in a pair. However, Shawnee State responded with three in the top of the fifth to retake the lead. Chris Nunez reached first on a single and advanced to second on a wild throw by Angel Soto.
However, Shawnee State responded with three in the top of the fifth to retake the lead. Nunez reached first on a single and advanced to second on a wild throw by Soto. Reaman then moved him to third on a single, and JT Boggs singled him home, with Reaman also scoring on the play when Jean Figueroa misplayed the ball in right. Boggs scored one batter later on Chase Thurber’s groundout.
Blake Marshall drove home Sam Gerhold in the top of the sixth, match by Deion Sellar’s RBI double in the bottom of the frame. Georgia Gwinnett scored again in the bottom of the seventh as Austin Alexander drove in Figueroa to make the score 6-5 in favor of the homestanding Grizzlies.
However, Shawnee State came right back by putting together three runs in the top of the eighth inning, all with two outs. Blake Marshall struck out but reached first after the third strike was dropped and advanced to second on a wild throw that scored Andrew Dito. Reaman drove in pinch runner Joe Loyd and pinch hitter Casey Claflin on a fly ball dropped by Figueroa to end the scoring for Shawnee State.
Georgia Gwinnett mounted a challenge and threatened the lead as a result, scoring a run in the eighth and two in the ninth. However, after Austin Alexander’s two-run homer in the ninth, Shawnee State reliever Jesse James settled down and obtained the final three outs to seal the upset victory.
Wheelersburg native Derek Moore allowed four runs on 10 hits and struck out eight in six innings to get the win for SSU. Nikolay Uherek allowed nine runs on 10 hits, but only four of the runs were earned in the loss. Jesse James threw a total of 1.1 innings in relief to earn the save.
On Saturday, Shawnee State fell to the homestanding Grizzlies by the same 7-6 counts in games one and two but struck first in both affairs.
In the first affair, the Bears scored three runs in the top of the third as Brandon Reaman singled with one out and reached third when Brady Hamilton dropped JT Boggs’ fly ball. Reaman then scored on Chase Thurber’s single, and Nick Rose drove in Boggs a batter later with a single of his own. After a strikeout, Sam Gerhold singled in Thurber to make it 3-0 Bears after an inning of play
Georgia Gwinnett got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth as Trevor Bradley singled home Kade Carrigan and would score himself on Jean Figueroa’s single. The Grizzlies tied the game when Figueroa came around to score on a single by Marcus McCorkle in the bottom of the seventh, and took the lead later in the inning on Alex Garland’s two-run homer.
The Grizzlies scored two additional runs in the bottom of the eighth, but Shawnee State mounted a furious rally in the top of the ninth to make Georgia Gwinnett sweat out a barnburner.
Shawnee State had Joe Loyd on second with two outs when Nick Rose would hit an RBI double. Andrew Dito drove in Rose one batter later with a RBI double of his own, and Sam Gerhold walked. Casey Claflin then hit an RBI single to drive in Dito, and he and Chris Nunez — pinch-running for Gerhold — advanced to second and third on the throw. However, Georgia Gwinnett made a pitching change, and Shelton struck out Marshall to end the game.
Shawnee State again jumped out to an early lead by scoring six runs in the game’s first inning. The Bears loaded the bases with nobody out before Thurber drove in Matt Dvorscak with a RBI single. Casey Claflin walked to score Reaman, and Sam Gerhold drove in Rose with a groundout. Nunez used his speed to single to short, driving in Thurber and moving Claflin to third. After Nunez stole second and Marshall walked, Georgia Gwinnett replaced starting pitcher Chase Boone with Abram Cartledge. The first batter of the inning batted again, and Dvorscak delivered a two-RBI double to drive in Claflin and Nunez.
The Grizzlies began their comeback in the bottom of the third with three runs. Georgia Gwinnett loaded the bases in the first three batters, and Austin Alexander singled home a run to make the score 6-1. Alex Garland then got the big blow of the inning, getting two RBIs on a single to make the score 6-3.
Shawnee State held GGC scoreless from there until the bottom of the ninth. With Joe Spano in to pitch, SSU got a quick out before Deion Sellers doubled to get to second, and advanced to third on Alexander’s single. Kyle Timmerman then hit a two-run triple to make the score 6-5, and needing only a run, Jean Paul Rodriguez obtained a pinch hit single to drive in Timmerman and tie the game. Shawnee State would escape the inning with no further damage to get to extra innings.
Shawnee State put a runner on second but stranded him there in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, Trevor Bradley led off with a single and forced Chris Moore to bring in Kyle Agius to replace Spano. Agius picked off Bradley for the first out, but gave up consecutive hits to Figueroa and Rodney Tennie. Agius then struggle with his command, hitting Sellers one batter later and walking in the winning run by delivering four balls to Chris Jones to give Georgia Gwinnett the doubleheader sweep.
Shelton threw 1.2 innings of relief, allowing no runs on no hits with three strikeouts. Agius would pitch 0.1 innings, allowing only the winning run to score in taking the loss.
The Shawnee State baseball program will be back in Portsmouth on Tuesday when the Bears host Point Park University (Pa.). First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.