By Martin Kluk, sports information intern
I Game 2 stats: http://www.bluffton.edu/sports/baseball/2012/04-29-b2.htm
The Bluffton University baseball squad split a doubleheader with the Franklin College Grizzlies on Sunday, April 29, 2012, taking the first game, 8-3, and dropping the second, 7-4. Bluffton moved to 17-20 overall and 10-12 in the HCAC, while Franklin improved to 27-9 overall and 15-7 in the HCAC.
In the first matchup, the Beaver offense struggled through the first few innings before it got things rolling in the fourth when it tied the game at one. Junior Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) got the inning started by reaching on a bunt single.
After a Tyler Stephenson (Springfield/Northwestern) single moved him to third, Tyler Wright (Troy) picked him up on a sacrifice fly to put the first run on the board.
The Grizzlies regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but the Beavers came right back in the top of the fifth. Three straight doubles by Josh Gullett (Mansfield/Madison), Anthony Cianci (Ravenna/Southeast) and Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) plated two as Bluffton went up 3-2.
Franklin tied the game with a run in the sixth and the teams went scoreless in the seventh to keep it at 3-3. Then the Bluffton bats came through with a four-run eighth inning to take control of the game. Tim Webb (Delaware) and Gullett headed the scoring push as Webb drove in Stephenson and Wright on a single while Gullett drilled his second double of the game, scoring Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer) and Webb for a 7-3 advantage.
The Beavers tacked on a run in the top of the ninth and Halen Core (Reynoldsburg) closed the door on the Grizzlies to seal the victory. Brad Schlabach (Fredericksburg/Hiland) started the game and pitched well. He worked 5.2 strong innings, surrendering three runs (one earned) while giving up five hits and striking out five. Core grabbed the victory, staying perfect at 5-0 as he dominated the Grizzly offense, holding Franklin hitless over the final 3.1 innings while fanning six batters.
For the second game, Bluffton was not as fortunate as the visitors fell behind early and could not dig out of the hole. The Beavers were able to score in the first inning when Niermann led off with a triple. However, Franklin knocked around senior starter Ryan Leugers (Botkins) for four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Bluffton tried to chip away at the lead by adding another score in the second on an RBI single from Niermann, but the Grizzlies came right back with a pair in their half to make it 6-2.
The Beavers were able to cut the deficit to 6-4 in the top of the fourth when Stephenson delivered with a bases loaded single, scoring Cianci and Niermann. Once again though, the home team responded with a run in the same inning for a 7-4 advantage. The Grizzlies pitching staff did the rest, sending the visitors home with a split in the doubleheader.
Sophomore Ben Roeschley (Graymont. Ill/Flanagan) was superb in relief as he tossed seven outstanding innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with six strikeouts.
The Beavers offense was led by Niermann (4-for-10 and three runs), Stephenson (4-for-9 with three RBI) and Gullet (3-for-7 and two RBI).
Bluffton returns home for its final conference series of the season with Hanover on Friday, May 4. The first game of the Friday doubleheader is slated for 2 P.M.