Bluffton 18, Hanover 3
Baseball sets school mark with win #20 at Hanover College
May 3, 2013
By: Kyle Stover, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - May 3, 2013 will go down in history for the Bluffton University baseball team as the Beavers set a new school record for wins while dominating Hanover in the HCAC series opener. Bluffton fell behind early, but rallied back and took complete control en route to the 18-3 victory. The Beavers eclipsed their previous record of 19 wins set the past two seasons with their 20th of the year with two more games to play.
Nate Simonds (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln) was masterful on the mound in his final start of the regular season, rebounding from a rough inning to take control of the Panther lineup. He allowed two runs in the first frame but was able to settle in for the duration. Simonds (5-5) got the win while pitching a complete game (9 innings), giving up nine hits and three runs, all earned, and striking out five. His nine innings pushed him past Josh Underwood's school record of 73.2 innings as Simonds now stands at 74.1 innings pitched this season with a phenomenal 2.91 earned run average.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the game, Bluffton rallied in the third to knot things up. The inning opened with a single by Mike Castro (Reynoldsburg), followed with a sacrifice bunt for Jeff Roth (Bellevue). Christian Vail (Lucas) then singled, moving Castro to third before Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) stepped to the plate and hit a single of his own, driving in Castro. Vail came around to score later in the inning thanks to an error on Hanover's second baseman, tying up the game and rounding out the scoring in the visitor's half of the third.
Going into the top of the fifth, the game was still tied at two, but the tie would end there as Bluffton's offense erupted. The inning opened with Vail getting robbed of extra bases by the Hanover centerfielder on a diving catch, but things quickly turned around with four consecutive singles off the bats of Niermann, Anthony Cianci (Ravenna/Southeast), Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) and Greg Franks (Smithville) to score two runs. Following a deep fly ball by Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison), David Ianiro (Highland Heights/Mayfield) chopped a single to the shortstop before Castro was walked to force in Webb for the third run of the inning. Roth followed that up with an infield hit of his own, plating Franks before Vail delivered a big blow, hitting a double down the left field line which drove in two more runs. A new pitcher for Hanover did not slow things down as Niermann was walked and Cianci drove a two-RBI single through the left side to end the scoring for the inning as Bluffton took a commanding 10-2 lead.
The Beavers added on another run in the top of the seventh when Vail crushed a triple down the right field line before scoring on a balk by the Panther reliever.
The scoring did not stop there as Bluffton was able to tack on a couple more runs in the eighth inning. The bases were loaded with two outs when Vail stepped to the plate, looking to complete the cycle with a home run, but he had to settle for a two-run single, pushing the Beaver lead to 11.
Simonds allowed a run in the bottom of the eighth, but was able to minimize the damage before Bluffton added on more insurance in the ninth thanks to some timely pinch-hitting. Doug Paullin (Jeromesville/Hillsdale), who came in earlier in the game to play second, reached base on an error to open the inning. With one out, senior Matt Calhoun (Bonita Springs Fla./South Fort Myers) made a trip to the plate, drawing a walk to advance Paullin to second. Tyler Spalding (Willis, Mich./Lincoln) was the next hitter for Bluffton, smacking a single to center field to load up the bases before Cade Randolph (Marengo/Highland) stepped to the dish and drove a single down the right field line which plated both Paullin and Calhoun. Castro then crushed a ball to left field, scoring Spalding and moving Randolph to third before Roth reached first on another error by Hanover's second baseman. Vail then capped off his stellar performance on the day with a sacrifice fly to center, driving in his fifth run of the game. After Michael Alexander (Monroe) pinch-hit for Niermann and reached on an error, Paullin capped off the scoring with an RBI single to center field.
Vail had a breakout performance, going 4-of-5 with five RBI and just a home run shy of the cycle. Cianci went 2-for-5 with three RBI while Niermann had two hits as well, moving within one hit of his own school record (68) for hits in a season. Franks, Ianiro, and Castro all added two safeties as well.
Bluffton moved to 20-17 (11-11 HCAC) on the season, a new record for wins in a season by any Bluffton University baseball team. Hanover fell to 15-21 on the year with an 8-15 mark in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The win guarantees the Beavers of their first winning season since 1990 when Bluffton was 15-14. Hanover and Bluffton will meet again on Saturday, May 4, in a doubleheader with the first game slated to begin at 11 a.m. in Hanover. The Beavers will look to add to their new record for wins while still having an outside shot at a berth in the HCAC tournament with a sweep on Saturday.