May 5, 2018
BLUFFTON, Ohio - A crucial sweep of Transylvania University on Senior Day has the Bluffton University baseball team on the verge of qualifying for its first-ever Heartland Conference baseball tournament! The Beavers finished the regular season with a 21-16 record, including a 9-9 mark in the HCAC.
The Beavers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Garrett O'Reilly (Galena/Orange) laced a two-run single and Adam Duncan's (Northwood/Lake) squeeze bunt sent O'Reilly across the dish.
Sophomore Tommy Siemer (Liberty Township/Lakota East) cruised through the first eight innings unscathed before exiting after a leadoff single by the Pioneers in the ninth. Dante D'Andrea (Westerville/North) made it interesting before closing out the 3-2 Bluffton victory with his second save of the season.
Siemer allowed one earned run on five hits in 8+ innings of work. He fanned five and issued two walks on 113 pitches en route to his first victory of the season.
A Latkofsky RBI single in the first and a Lawniczak sacrifice fly kept the Beavers in striking distance early in game two before Transylvania opened up a 7-2 cushion with three tallies in the fourth and another in the sixth.
The tide turned quickly in the bottom of the sixth when Lawniczak was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Junior Colin Gregory (Fremont/Clyde) came through with Bluffton's biggest hit of the year, a towering grand slam to left center that knotted the game at 7-7 with one swing of the bat!
A shell-shocked Pioneer squad that had its eye on a potential berth in the Heartland Conference tournament fell apart in seventh, allowing five more runs on three hits and an error, as Bluffton went from down 7-2 to up 12-7 in the blink of an eye. Senior Reid Maus (Hamilton/Badin) poked an RBI double and Gregory delivered a two-run single through the right side before Ryan Golden (Findlay) scored on a wild pitch.
Bluffton's swiss army knife, Dante D'Andrea, again kept everyone on the edge of their seats before closing out the 12-8 victory by inducing a ground ball to third with two runners on base.
D'Andrea allowed just one run on four hits in three innings of relief, improving to 6-3 with the victory. He struck out three and allowed only one walk. Gregory had a day, driving in six runs and scoring twice on two hits. Lawniczak scored two runs and finished with three RBI. Lenny Winiarski (Cincinnati/LaSalle), O'Reilly and Duncan all crossed the dish two times apiece.
Bluffton's fourth 20-win season in school history has the Beavers on the verge of their first-ever Heartland Conference tournament berth! One or two wins by HCAC regular season champion Franklin over Defiance College or a Manchester-Earlham split on Sunday will send the Beavers into the tourney which is slated to start next Thursday, May 10. Schedule updates will be posted on the Bluffton Baseball webpage and Twitter as the Heartland Conference games go final tomorrow.