May 6 – BETHANY, W. Va. – It took ten innings, a comeback effort, and a walk-off RBI single from sophomore Ryan Nickerson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach), but the Bison baseball team earned a 6-5, extra-inning, victory over Thiel College in their final home game of the 2016 regular season.
Pitching in his final game of his four-year career, senior Ryan Bisi (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe) did yeoman's work on the mound, tossing perfection for 4.1 innings of work. He set down the first 13-consecutive batters that he faced, before giving up an infield single in the fifth inning.
Offensively, the Bison spotted the senior hurler three runs, scoring one in the bottom of the first before tacking on two more in the home half of the fourth inning.
The first batter of the game for the Green & White was Zack Miller (West Mifflin, Pa./West Mifflin), who reached third base on a three-bag throwing error by the Thiel third-baseman. Two batters later, freshman Kevin Marthinsen (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) drove Miller home with a RBI single, giving Bethany the 1-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the fourth, after Bisi had worked four-straight perfect innings, freshman Neil Woods (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) quickly pushed the lead to 2-0, blasting his second-career home run over the left field fence.
The next batter of the inning was senior Matt Shaffer (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry), who singled up the middle to put a runner on with no outs. Following a sacrifice bunt from Zach Schlotter (Twinsburg, Ohio/Gilmour Academy), junior Adam Becker (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township) doubled to left field, scoring Shaffer to push the lead to 3-0.
Thiel would respond in the top of the sixth inning as a two-run blast by Bryan Mitchell brought the Tomcats within a run at 3-2.
The top of the seventh would see Thiel plate three-more runs, two of which came on a two-run error by the Bison. The other run was driven in by Daniel Patrice on a sacrifice fly, giving the visitors a 5-3 advantage.
The Green & White would not be deterred, however, responding with single runs in both the bottom of the seventh and bottom of the eighth innings to knot the game at 5-5.
In the seventh inning, freshman John Lee (Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) got the Bison going with a two-out single. Marthinsen then came through in the clutch, doubling home Lee from first base to pull the Green & White within a run.
Shaffer once again served as a catalyst for the Bison in the bottom of the eighth inning, doubling off the right-field fence before being moved to third on a sacrifice by Schlotter. Becker then reached on a fielder's choice, as Schaffer beat the throw to the plate, tying the game at five.
After allowing three runs in the seventh inning, Bisi once again locked down the Tomcats, surrendering just one baserunner in the eighth and ninth frames, including retiring Thiel in order in the ninth.
Junior Cody Gross (West Mifflin, Pa./West Mifflin) came on in relief of Bisi in the top of the tenth inning and also retired the Tomcats in order, setting up the Bison for their walk-off heroics.
For the third time in the game, Shaffer set the table, reaching base on an error by the Thiel second baseman. Schlotter then put down a bunt single to put runners on first and second with no out, before Brandon Wagner (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) came in to run for Schaffer.
The next batter in the order was Becker, who put down a sacrifice bunt in an attempt to move the runners to second and third base. However, a bobble by the shortstop covering third base allowed all three Bison to reach safely, setting the table for Nickerson's game winner.
With the bases loaded, Nickerson quickly found himself down 0-2 in the count. After working the count full, the sophomore second-baseman got a pitch he could hit, and sent it back up the middle to score Wagner for the game-winning run.
The walk-off winner was the second of the season for the Green & White, who also earned a 10-inning victory over Geneva College on a Hyte Eurich (Cabot, Pa./Knoch) single back on March 24.
Bisi, who would have earned his fourth complete game of the season had the game ended in regulation, pitched well for the Bison, needing just 102 pitches to go nine innings in the no decision. He allowed just three earned runs and seven hits while striking out three.
Gross, who pitched a perfect tenth inning in relief of Bisi, earned the victory for his third of the season.
Offensively, Shaffer, who was appearing for the final time at Bison Field, finished the day 4-for-5 with a double and a pair of runs scored.
Other multi-hit performances were turned in by Nickerson, Woods and Marthinsen as the Bison pounded out 14 in the victory. Nickerson finished the game 3-for-5 with a RBI while Marthinsen went 2-for-5 with a double and a pair of RBIs. Becker added two RBIs on the day, with Woods finishing with a pair of hits and a home run.
Bethany will conclude the regular season by finishing the three-game series with the Tomcats in Greenville, Pa. on Saturday. The doubleheader is scheduled for a 12 p.m. start.