In the season-opening Mid-South Conference contests for the Shawnee State baseball program, the Bears experienced mixed results as SSU used two eighth-inning solo home runs from George Duran and Ben Sellers, along with a two-run homer by Damion Coleman and a game-saving defensive gem from Collier Wireman, allowed the Bears to take home a 9-8 victory in Game 1. SSU dropped the second game after a wild pitch in the top half of the seventh frame allowed Cumberland to plate the winning run in the daycap Saturday afternoon.
Shawnee State’s Kyle Wisniewski started on the mound in the first game for Shawnee and was able to help lead the team to victory. Wisniewski did not allow a hit until the third inning as he was in control of this one early on. Damion Coleman got the Bears on the board in the bottom of the second inning to give SSU a lead in the first game with a two-run blast over the center field wall.
However, Cumberland answered back. In the third through fifth frames, the Phoenix managed to post five runs over the following three frames, all of the unanswered variety, as four Shawnee State errors over that same stretch resulted in Cumberland taking a 5-2 advantage after five innings of work.
In the bottom half of the sixth, however, Shawnee State came right back at Cumberland as the Bears posted a four-spot. Following a leadoff single by Levi Jones, Jacob Kline lofted an RBI triple into the outfield to score Jones while Howie Rodriguez followed three batters later with a clutch two-RBI double that scored Kline and Noah Brock. Duran then added in an RBI double of his own with two out to score Rodriguez and give SSU the point, 6-5 in the contest.
The lead wasn’t done seesawing from side to side. In the top half of the seventh, Mykel Gordon’s leadoff walk was followed by a two-run homer by Josh Morgan, which put Cumberland back in front as the Phoenix took a 7-6 lead after seven frames of play.
Ultimately, however, Shawnee State’s top half of the order proved to victimize Cumberland, as the Bears, breathing a litany of optimism after Wireman’s web gem, got a first-pitch homer from Duran with one gone in the eighth to tie the game and a third-pitch homer from Sellers to take the point away for good. Marty Knittel, who threw three innings in relief, didn’t allow an earned run and gave up just one hit while striking out two to obtain the winning decision.
The second inning proved to be fruitful again for Shawnee State in Game 2, where the Bears obtained a two-RBI double from Cooper Wohlgemuth, an RBI base knock from Rodriguez, and a RBI double from Duran to help put up a five-spot on Cumberland through two innings of work.
However, that 5-0 second-inning lead evaporated as the Bears, who allowed a solo home run to Gordon in the fourth, gave up six runs in the fifth and another tally in the sixth as Cumberland took an 8-5 lead. An RBI single by Jones and a two-RBI base knock by Kline in the bottom of the sixth allowed Shawnee State to rally and tie the score, but a walk, a passed ball, and a wild pitch allowed Cumberland’s Chandler Hughes to score the winning run in the top of the seventh frame of action.
Offensively, Shawnee State (4-15, 1-1 Mid-South) was led by Duran (4-for-9, home run, three doubles, three RBI, three runs scored), Jones (4-for-9, double, two RBI, two runs scored), and Kline (4-for-8, triple, three RBI, three runs scored) across the two affairs. Cumberland sits at 8-10 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-South after the two decisions.
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