PORTSMOUTH — Shawnee State’s baseball team successfully wrapped up its weekend series against Bethel (Tenn.) on Sunday afternoon at Branch Rickey Park, taking home a 9-7 victory to win the series over the Wildcats.
The Bears moved to 13-10 and 5-6 in the Mid-South Conference with the victory, including to 7-3 at Branch Rickey Park.
In the final contest of the three-game set, George Duran, Howie Rodriguez, Levi Jones, Damion Coleman and Noah Sniadach all enjoyed multi-hit performances — as the Bears pounded out their nine runs on 13 hits.
Shawnee State scored twice in the first, second and fourth innings, while scoring one time apiece in the fifth, sixth, and seventh.
Shawnee State set the tone early as it scored two runs in the opening frame, with Rodriguez providing the offensive spark as he blasted a two-run shot over the left-field wall.
With his early blast, Rodriguez notched his third homer during his 2021 campaign — which is good for third on the team behind Jacob Kline (seven) and Duran (five).
The Bears didn’t let Bethel catch its breath, as they added two more runs in the bottom of the second.
The team had to manufacture its runs this time around, as Kyle Boggs and Javier Santiago both scored on Sniadach’s double.
The freshman had quite the day himself, going 2-for-4 while driving in two and scoring twice.
At the end of the second inning, SSU was ahead 4-1 — and looked to be firmly in the driver’s seat.
Momentum, however, shifted the other direction as Bethel came to life as the game progressed.
The Wildcats pushed one run across in the second, two in the third, and then finally four in the fourth.
After giving up six unanswered runs, the Bears made a run in the fourth — as they were able to draw within one.
Sniadach and Duran both reached via walks to begin the inning and were later driven in, cutting the Bethel lead to 7-6.
But following the fourth, Bethel went cold at the plate — as it was unable to push across another run.
The Wildcats managed only three baserunners the rest of the way, as the Bears’ pitching staff shut them down.
Gleason finished strong by pitching a scoreless fifth, before turning it over to Ricky Deeble.
The Aussie proved to be all Coach Butler needed out of the pen, as Deeble threw four strong innings of relief.
Deeble was at his best as he allowed only one hit to go along with four strikeouts in his four innings of work, effectively shutting the door on any Bethel opportunities.
Thus, all SSU needed to do was scratch a couple of runs across to retake the lead, as they were able to do exactly that — as they scored one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
A pair of errors with two outs allowed Sniadach to reach, giving Duran a chance to drive him in and draw things even at 7-7.
Rodriguez continued to shine as he singled and subsequently stole second in the sixth, giving Jones the chance to drive him in.
Jones didn’t squander that opportunity either, as he doubled to give the Bears the lead.
Shawnee State put the nail in the coffin when Coleman scored in the seventh, and the eighth and ninth innings were all SSU — as Deeble registered three of his four punchouts in the final two frames.
With the win, SSU (13-10, 5-6 MSC) is off to its best start since the 2014 season, when the Bears also reached the 13-win plateau in the 23rd game of that year.
The Bears were set to take on NCAA Division I Akron in their next matchup — as they traveled to face the Zips on Wednesday.
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