Bluffton wraps up 2013 with series win at Hanover
Beavers win school record 21 games in 2013
May 4, 2013
By: Kyle Stover, sports information assistant
HANOVER, Ind. - The Bluffton University baseball team was unable to sweep Hanover College on Saturday, May 4, but the Beavers ended the season on a positive note despite not making the HCAC tournament. Bluffton went back-and-forth with the Panthers late in game one and fell on a walk-off, 9-8, but rebounded to take the final game, 4-3, and win the series.
Ben Roeschley (Graymont, Ill./Flanagan) was the starter in game one and was very strong early on. He allowed just one run and scattered five hits in his first six innings before running into trouble in the seventh. Hanover then rattled off five straight singles to chase him from the game and get into the Bluffton bullpen. Roeschley (4-3) did not get a decision in the game while going six innings, giving up 10 hits and six runs, all earned.
David Ianiro (Highland Heights/Mayfield) and Kyle Niermann (Napoleon) came on in relief of Roeschley with Ianiro (1-1) taking the loss.
Things started pretty slowly for the Beavers on offense after their 18-run outburst on Friday, not scoring until the sixth inning of game one. The inning opened with Greg Franks (Smithville) singling before Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) sacrificed him to second on a bunt. Jake Townley (Mansfield/Madison) then stepped to the plate and promptly traded places with Franks, doubling to left center to drive him in. With two outs in the inning and following a walk for Jeff Roth (Bellevue), Christian Vail (Lucas) singled to load up the bases. Niermann then reached on an error before Anthony Cianci (Ravenna/Southeast) unloaded the bases with a three-RBI double and a 5-1 lead.
Hanover responded with six runs in the bottom of the seventh before the Beavers rallied again in the eighth. Doug Paullin (Jeromesville/Hillsdale) started the inning with a single to third and quickly moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Roth. Vail then came through again, this time with a double to right field, knocking in Paullin. Hanover then brought in a new pitcher, but that did not faze Niermann who stepped to the plate and roped a single up the middle to set a new Bluffton record for hits in a season with 69, breaking his own record set back in 2011. Both Niermann and Vail came around to score later in the inning thanks to an error on the Panther reliever, giving the Beavers a one-run lead that did not hold up as Hanover walked off with a victory in the bottom of the ninth.
Bluffton didn't let the game one loss roll over into the series finale, and it all started with game two starter Todd Stover (Tipp City/Tippecanoe). Stover, who has struggled with run support all season, turned in one strong performance after another but was unable to crack the win column in his first seven starts. He did all he could to put the odds in his favor on Saturday, turning in a very workmanlike performance and pitching to contact successfully and efficiently. Stover (1-3) earned the victory in his final start, going five innings while giving up seven hits, two runs, only one earned, while striking out one. Despite just the one win, Stover finished the year with a strong 3.92 ERA in conference play, anchoring the final starting spot in the Beaver rotation.
Mark Hadaya (Beavercreek) came on in relief for Stover and did all that was asked of him, not allowing an earned run while on the mound. He finished his final appearance of the year with a flourish, going two innings and scattering four hits while giving up one unearned run and striking out two.
Richardson finished out the game on the mound for Bluffton, dominating the Hanover hitters in his first inning of relief while getting out of trouble in the ninth to preserve the win and record the save. He ended his Bluffton career on the mound with two strong innings, giving up just two hits and no runs while striking out three.
After falling behind by two runs in the bottom of the second, Bluffton put together a strong inning in the top of the third to take a lead they would not relinquish. It all started when Roth reached base on an error by the Panther third baseman. Vail followed that up with another hit, singling to right field and moving Roth to third. Niermann then added to his hits record with an RBI single to right-center, plating Roth. After Niermann stole second base, Richardson hit a sacrifice fly to left, knocking in Vail. With two outs in the inning, Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) crushed an RBI double to left center to give Bluffton the lead. Townley rounded out the scoring in the inning with an RBI hit of his own, roping a base knock to left to drive in Webb.
The Panthers were able to score again and pull within one, but strong relief pitching from seniors Hadaya and Richardson led Bluffton to the win in their final game.
Vail, who took full advantage of his audition for a starting spot in Bluffton's 2014 outfield, led the day for Bluffton's offense yet again, recording five hits in the doubleheader, giving him nine hits for the weekend. Niermann added four more hits to his total, finishing with school records in both hits in a season (71) and hits in a career (248). Cianci had three hits and three RBI on the day while Townley added three hits as well. Webb, Franks, and Paullin all tallied three base knocks in the twinbill.
Hanover finished the season with a 16-22 record overall, including a 9-16 mark in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Bluffton ends with a 21-18 record (12-12 HCAC), setting the school record for wins in a season that will go down in the history books for many reasons, including numerous individual and team records.