SHU Baseball Walks Off With Pair of Thrilling Victories over UNOH
ADRIAN, Mich. -- The Siena Heights baseball team earned a pair of comeback victories in dramatic fashion against Northwestern Ohio, 10-9 and 6-5, on Sunday at the SHU Baseball Field. In game one, the Saints battled back from an early four-run deficit and held off a late Racer rally before winning game two on a three-run, walk-off home run by Brett Howard (Sylvania, Ohio/Saint Francis de Sales).
Howard went 5-for-9 on the day with a double, homer, stolen base and seven RBIs. In the opener, he led the Saints, going 3-for-5.
Also in game one, Cory Lehman (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) was 2-for-3 with a homer and three runs scored, Todd Vandercook (Boca Raton, Fla./West Boca Raton) went 2-for-5 with two runs and Dan Abbott (Plymouth, Mich./Lutheran Westland) batted 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Mike Lollo (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini) and Robbie Schwartz (Adrian, Mich./Adrian) added doubles to the Siena Heights attack.
The contest got out to a rocky start for the Saints as starting pitcher Jake Sperry (Livonia, Mich./Westland John Glenn) struggled with his command. During UNOH's four-run first inning, the visitors took advantage of four walks and a hit batsman while getting their only RBI hit on a single by Fabian Placencia.
The Saints eventually answered with nine consecutive runs -- four in the fourth, one in the sixth and four in the seventh.
During the fourth, a Vandercook single and Lehman walk set the stage for a two-run double by Howard and two-run homer from Abbott. Lehman gave SHU the lead for good with a solo dinger in the sixth, putting the hosts up 5-4.
The seventh saw Siena Heights tack on four needed insurance runs. Schwartz had a pinch-hit double and Kyle Benschoter (Hudson, Mich./Hudson) walked to start the outburst. Vandercook had an RBI single and then Lehman walked before a wild pitch plated Benschoter and Howard knocked in two with a single.
Northwestern Ohio trimmed the SHU lead to 9-7 in the seventh, scoring two runs on a homer by Cory Cook and then another on a balk.
Marcus Stewart (Clinton, Mich./Clinton) pushed the Siena lead to 10-7 in the eighth with an RBI single to plate Lollo, who had doubled.
With UNOH batting in the last half of the ninth, Saint reliever Tayler Thelen (Cadillac, Mich./Grand Ledge) walked the tightrope, but avoided disaster. With two outs, Cook walked and Placencia singled to set up a two-run double by Kevin Cyrus. Thelen then induced a game-ending groundout to earn the save.
Sperry settled down after the first to claim the win. He gave up five runs (four earned) on four hits while finishing with one strikeout, eight walks and one hit batsman. Nathan Wilkerson (Osseo, Mich./Hudson) worked one inning before Thelen wrapped up the final two.
Juan Espinosa was the losing pitcher, giving up eight runs on eight hits while recording four strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter. Offensive, Placencia led the Racers with a 4-for-4 game, including two triples.
The nightcap ended with a serving of two-out magic in the Saints' seventh. With SHU trailing 5-2, Vandercook singled, Lehman walked and Josh White (Brooklyn, Mich./Columbia Central) ripped an RBI single before Howard's blast ended the day.
SHU opened the game with one run in the first -- Benschoter doubled and scored on a Lehman double -- but Pichi Torres had an immediate answer in the UNOH second, hammering a solo homer.
A two-run double by Cyrus in the third helped the Racers take a 3-1 lead, which SHU cut into during the fourth. Howard singled and eventually touched the plate on an RBI groundout by Lollo.
UNOH added a run via Siena Heights error in the sixth and then another in the seventh on Schubert's RBI single, putting the Racers up 5-2 before SHU gave its decisive answer in the frame's bottom half.
Matt King (Rockville, Ind./Rockville) started on the hill for Siena Heights. He gave up five runs (four earned) and five hits. He also had two strikeouts, four walks and one hit batter.
Travis Mielcarek (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win.
Howard and Benschoter (two doubles) went 2-for-4 in the game.
For UNOH, Rob Wilson pitched the first five innings before giving way to losing pitcher Ryan Staton, who failed to save the game.
The Saints (24-17, 11-9), who have won nine of their last 10 games, will play next on Thursday when they visit Rochester for a 2 p.m. non-conference doubleheader.