After winning three games by a combined 41-6 over Ohio State-Lima, the Bluefield College baseball team could be forgiven it didn’t expect much of a challenge in the fourth game between the clubs in two days.
That wasn’t the case for the Rams, which scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Barons 13-12 on Tuesday afternoon at sunny Bowen Field, completing the four-game sweep of the visitors from Lima.
That followed an 11-3 win for the Bluefield, which also defeated the Barons 13-0 and 17-3 on Monday.
“We talked about it in between games, we knew that club beat us last year here and we knew that at some point in time they were going to compete,” Bluefield College head coach Mike White said. “The hardest part for us was being able to get up and continue to do what we had done in the previous three.
“We knew there was a pretty good chance they were going to come out and compete. (Ohio State-Lima head coach) Abe (Ambroza) does a good job with them and they aren’t going to roll over.”
Bluefield (18-4, 4-2), which had a 13-game win streak snapped last weekend at Pikeville, has now won five straight, scoring at least 11 runs in all of them. The Rams have allowed 3 or fewer runs in four of those decisions.
The Rams have already surpassed last year’s win total of 17.
“We are pretty excited about it, but it is not so much what we do,” White said. “We are doing the same things we did the year we won 45 and the year we won 17. It is the kids that come out and compete. We have got a good group of kids.”
That includes designated hitter Zac Russell-Myers, who reached base 8 of 9 times in the twinbill, including five singles, a double, two walks, six runs scored, two RBIs and even a stolen base.
Four Bluefield seniors — Russell Myers, Jacob Wright, Tyler Lundgren and Kahlen Villines — combined for 10 hits, 10 runs and drove in eight more.
“One of the things we have had is pretty good leadership with these kids,” White said. “Zac and Jacob and Tyler and our group of seniors have done a good job keeping us going. The credit goes to them when things like that happen.”
Facing a long bus trip after the final game, the Barons came out hitting, collecting six runs in the opening frame to chase Wright, who was replaced by normal closing candidate Cory Niten, who struck out the 12th batter of the inning on three pitches with bases loaded to stop the rally.
Niten (2-1) pitched the rest of the game, overcoming a few fielding miscues to wind up with the win.
“I am excited for Cory right there, that is a closer, and we were running him out there in the first inning,” White said. “He is taxed as he goes and he did a great job of getting us as far as he could get us.
“If we catch a couple of balls in there and play a little bit cleaner, it is probably not as ugly as it was.”
Bluefield came right back in its half of the first, scoring seven runs with two outs, paced by a two-run single from Sawyer McLamb and a three-run blast over the left field fence by Villines, a former draft choice by the San Francisco Giants.
The Rams built the lead to 9-6 in the second, but the Barons tied it at 10-10 in the sixth on an RBI double by Wade Verhoff.
“It was entertaining, sometimes we would call that a little bit of a mess, but the kids battled hard,” White said. “They jumped up 6-0 and the kids jumped right back and continued to push.
“It could have went away there in the seventh and we answered it right back. They say that is a mark of a good ball club so we will see. I am pleased with them, this group right here does everything you ask of them.”
Ohio State-Lima, which lost a couple of scoring opportunities on a pair of web gems Lundgren at catcher and Tyler Timmer on a relay at shortstop, took a 12-10 lead in the seventh on a two-out two-run single by Justin Bonzani.
Bluefield answered, with McLamb reaching after getting hit by a pitch from Austin Cobb, the last of nine batters to get plunked in the game.
The next two batters, Daniel Copeland and Timmer, lined doubles down the third base line to tie the score at 12-12. Timmer would score the winning run when a two-out grounder by Tyler Rome went through the legs of shortstop Brandon Burke to end the game.
Russell-Myers finished with three hits and scored three runs, and McLamb and Copeland had two hits and two runs apiece. McLamb and Villines drove in three runs each, while Copeland plated two.
Daniel Ankrum led the Barons’ 12-hit attack with three hits, while Dylan Clifton-Lorton, Matt Jay and Bonzani had two apiece. Cobb was saddled with the loss, as Ohio State-Lima dropped to 0-10.
Bluefield rolled to victory in the opener, collecting 12 hits and scoring 10 runs in the first three innings. Dylan Cole (3-1) picked up the complete game win, allowing seven hits and just one earned run, while striking out five and walking one.
Russell Myers had three hits, including a double, two walks and two RBIs. Timmer, who was also retired just once in the two games, had three singles and drove in three, while Wright added a two-run single.
Ohio State-Lima was paced by Ankrum and Patrick O’Brien with two hits each, while Ron Stewardson took the loss on the mound.
Bluefield, which made its home debut on Monday, will host Ohio State-Mansfield on Thursday, followed by a three-game series with Mid-South Conference foe Lindsey Wilson beginning on Friday.
The Blue Raiders are currently ranked 15th among NAIA Division I schools in the nation.
“Lindsey is a top 15 club,” White said. “We will have our hands full with them for sure, but we will enjoy today and worry about them tomorrow.”
—More on Zac Russell-Myers later this week
at Bowen Field
Ohio State-Lima............010 000 2 — 3 7 2
Bluefield.....................253 001 x — 11 12 3
Ron Stewardson, Chase Allen (3) and Ryne Jerome. Dylan Cole and Tyler Lundgren, Braden Freeman (6). W—Cole (3-1); L—Stewardson.
Ohio State-Lima........601 021 2 — 12 12 3
Bluefield...................710 100 3 — 13 12 3
Dominic Pestello, Austin Cobb (4) and Matt Jay. Jacob Wright, Cory Niten (1) and Tyler Lundgren. W—Niten (2-1); L—Cobb. HR—Kahlin Villines (2), 1st, 2 on.