RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Senior Mike Deitsch’s final appearance on the mound at Bob Evans Field is one he won’t forget anytime soon.
The right-hander from Cincinnati, Ohio limited visiting Lindsey Wilson College to just one run over 7-2/3 innings and fellow senior David Steele recorded the final four outs to give the University of Rio Grande a 2-1 win over the Blue Raiders, Friday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference baseball action.
The RedStorm, who won for the second straight time, improved to 19-25 overall and 5-17 in conference play, keeping their faint post-season hopes afloat in the process.
Lindsey Wilson slipped to 25-23 overall and 11-10 in the MSC with the loss.
“Our senior pitchers threw extremely well and we played great defense behind them,” said Rio head coach Brad Warnimont. “We needed Mike and David to step up and that’s exactly what they did. This time of year, every game means something.”
And then some.
Despite the win, the magic number to eliminate the RedStorm from the MSC tourney dropped to four after the University of the Cumberlands scratched out a 3-2 win over St. Catharine.
In order to reach the post-season, Rio Grande needs to pass Cumberlands and the University of Pikeville, who were tied with each other for the eighth and the final tournament berth at day’s beginning. While the Patriots posted their one-run win, the Bears were the victim of a ninth inning walkoff win at Shawnee State.
Regardless of what happened elsewhere, Rio Grande took care of business on its end thanks to its duo of senior hurlers.
Deitsch, who recorded the final two outs for a save in Wednesday night’s win over NCAA Division I Ohio University, scattered seven singles over his 7-2/3 innings of work, but was constantly forced to wiggle out of trouble as a result of four walks and a career-high five hit batsmen.
The win was the third in eight decisions for Deitsch this season.
Steele, a right-hander from Kettering, Ohio, came on to record the final out in the eighth inning and strand a pair of runners on base. He issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Nick Hoffman in the ninth, but coaxed Kory weeks to ground into a 4-6-3 double-play and Michael Rosario to fly out to center to seal the win and notch his second save.
Lindsey Wilson stranded a season-high 16 runners on base, including eight in scoring position.
Still, it was the Blue Raiders who drew first blood by using the speed of Derek Shugart to push across a third inning run.
Shugart and Mitchell Osnowitz began the inning with consecutive singles and Jeandro Andino reached moments later when Deitsch’s throw to third on his sacrifice bunt attempt was late in an effort to retire Shugart.
One out later, Jordan Berry hit a popup that junior second baseman Grant Tamane (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) managed to track down with a nice over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right-center field, but Shugart took advantage of his speed and Tamane’s momentum taking him away from the infield to tag from third and beat the throw home.
Rio Grande, which managed just four hits on the afternoon against LWC starter England Smith, rebounded to erase the deficit in the bottom of the fourth.
Junior Kevin Arroyo (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) led off with a single and promptly moved to second when Smith errored Tamane’s subsequent bunt attempt.
Senior Marcus Makuch (Baltimore, OH) then bunted both runners into scoring position and both scored when sophomore Kirk Yates’ (Chillicothe, OH) grounder to shortstop was misplayed for an error.
Aside from the two runners who scored in the fourth, though, Rio Grande advanced just one other runner beyond first base the rest of the day - freshman Carlos Flores (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico), who led off the home eighth with a single and was bunted into scoring position before being stranded.
Smith was the hard-luck loser for the Blue Raiders, allowing the four hits and the two unearned runs in a complete game effort. He did not walk a batter and struck out five.
Osnowitz and Andino both had two hits in a losing cause for LWC.
The two teams will wrap up the weekend series - and for Rio Grande its final home series as a member of the MSC - with a Saturday afternoon doubleheader.
First pitch for the nine-inning opener is set for noon. A seven-inning finale will follow approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.