FRANKLIN, Ind. - The Bluffton University baseball team called on its game two warriors again and the Beavers delivered their third Heartland Conference split in five days at defending champion Franklin College on Saturday, April 6. Bluffton moved to 12-12 overall and 3-3 in the HCAC, while the Grizzlies are now 13-9 with the same 3-3 mark in the conference.
A two-out double by Lenny Winiarski (Cincinnati/LaSalle) in the top of the first plated Alex Lemanski (Miamisburg) and Colin Gregory (Fremont/Clyde) for a 2-0 lead. Winiarski crossed the dish when the Grizzlies were unable to scoop up Jaxon Rogan's (Marysville) shot to second base, making it 3-0 heading to the home half of the first.
Franklin answered back and then some in the bottom of one when the first six Grizzlies reached safely and all came around to score as the home team took a 6-3 lead over the Beavers. The Franklin edge moved to 11-3 before Dennis Szalai (LaGrange/Keystone) picked up Duncan in the top of the fourth.
Trailing 16-4 going to the eighth, Bluffton tried to get back in striking range with three runs before the Grizzlies answered right back with three of their own en route to the 19-7 victory in game one. Freshman Pharaoh Smith (Indianapolis, IN/Lawrence Central) notched his first RBI with a single in the inning. A walk to Bryce Fink (Medina) pushed Adam Duncan (Northwood/Lake) home before Gregory's sacrifice fly ended Bluffton's scoring.
Winiarski drove in two and scored twice, while Duncan also crossed the dish two times. Brantley Curnutte (Hilliard/Davidson) dropped his first decision after allowing eight runs on seven hits in just two innings of work.
The Grizzlies would not fare so well against Brantley's brother in game two. Freshman Carson Curnutte (Hilliard/Davidson) took the hill and did not exit until inning eight! Along the way he fanned seven Grizzlies and scattered nine hits while allowing just two sixth-inning runs.
Winiarski's second dinger of the week put Bluffton up 1-0 in the fourth inning. A double down the left field line by Smith gave him his second RBI in as many games when Rogan trotted home! Following an errant pickoff throw that moved him to third, Smith made it 3-0 when Franklin balked him in.
With Bluffton holding a 3-2 lead going to the bottom of the eighth, senior Dante D'Andrea (Westerville/North) took over on the mound. After two quick strikeouts, he issued a walk, but immediately took care of it himself when he picked Franklin's pinch runner off first base! With three up and three down for the home team in the ninth, D'Andrea picked up his third save of the season while young Curnutte evened his record at 2-2.
Bluffton will play a makeup game at Ohio Northern on Sunday, April 7, with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m. in Ada. Go Beavers!