RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Grant Tamane drove in three runs, including the game-winner with a one-out squeeze bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning, to give the University of Rio Grande a 6-5 game two victory and doubleheader split with Lindsey Wilson College, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference baseball action at Bob Evans Field.
The dramatic win came after the Blue Raiders rallied to win the opener, 7-6 in 12 innings.
Rio Grande finished the day at 20-26 overall and 6-18 in the MSC, keeping its slim post-season hopes alive in the process.
In order to reach the MSC Tournament, the RedStorm would need a sweep of Cumberland University next weekend in Lebanon, Tenn., as well as a Lindsey Wilson sweep of the University of the Cumberlands and a sweep by Georgetown College over the University of Pikeville.
“We know we have to have a lot of things happen in order for us to make it, but we’re still alive. There’s breath in the body,” said Rio Grande head coach Brad Warnimont. “Our guys battled all day long. They deserve a lot of credit.”
The split, coupled with a 2-1 win on Friday, gave Rio its second MSC series win this season. All three games were decided by just one run.
Through the first six innings of the seven-inning nightcap, a dramatic finish was nowhere in the script, but Lindsey Wilson (26-24, 12-11 MSC) rallied to scored four times in its final at bat to knot the score at 5-5.
In the home half of the seventh, freshman Daulton Kenyon (West Portsmouth, OH) reached on a single, moved to second on a wild pitch by LWC reliever Keith Patton and moved to third on a bloop single by junior Kevin Arroyo (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico), who took second on the throw toward home.
Mitchell Osnowitz was then brought on to face Tamane, a junior from Pickering, Ontario Canada.
Tamane put down a bunt in front of the plate which Osnowitz fielded and tried to flip to catcher Russ Morse, but Morse couldn’t handle the flip cleanly as Kenyon slid in safely with the game-winning run.
The Blue Raiders actually took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Osnowitz, but Rio countered with three runs in the third - two of which scored on a single by Tamane - to take a two-run lead.
The RedStorm extended their cushion to 5-1 thanks to a two-run single by freshman Luis Jimenez (Salinas, Puerto Rico) in the sixth, but LWC parlayed three hits, two walks, an error and a wild pitch into four seventh inning runs and set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Arroyo and Jimenez both had two hits in the win for Rio Grande, while sophomore Kirk Yates (Chillicothe, OH) - the last of the RedStorm’s three pitchers - earned his fourth win in five decisions.
Jacob Roberts had two hits in a losing cause for the Blue Raiders and Patton suffered his third loss in four decisions.
Game one was a near four-hour marathon which saw both teams surrender the lead early on.
Rio Grande jumped to a 1-0 first inning lead with an unearned run that crossed as a result of a sacrifice fly by senior Marcus Makuch (Baltimore, OH), but the Blue Raiders struck for four runs in the third - three of which scored on a two-out home run by Jeandro Andino - to take their first lead.
The RedStorm started the road back in the home third when sophomore Chris Ford (Athens, OH) scored on a double by Yates to make it 4-2. A run-scoring double by freshman Carlos Flores (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico) and an RBI groundout by Tamane in the fourth tied the game at 4-4.
Rio then regained the lead in the fifth thanks to a two-run single by freshman Daryin Lewis (Circleville, OH), but Lindsey Wilson would eventually tie the game at 6-6 on solo home runs by Alex Bautista in the sixth and eighth innings.
The game stayed deadlocked until the Lindsey Wilson 12th when Bautista led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Trey Davis’ grounder to shortstop was errored.
LWC reliever Jason Turner retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to wrap up the victory.
Derek Shugart and Jordan Berry had three hits each for the Blue Radiers, while Osnowitz, Andino and Bautista all finished with two hits each.
Turner improved to 6-4, allowing just two hits over 6-2/3 shutout innings in relief of starter Scott Sebald.
Arroyo and Ford had three hits each for Rio Grande, while Yates and Lewis both had two hits.
Junior Landon Hutchison (Baltimore, OH) took the loss, despite pitching well in relief of senior starter David Steele (Kettering, OH).
Hutchison allowed four hits and the one run, while walking three and fanning two in four innings of work.
“Hutch threw the ball well. You can’t fault what he did on the mound. We just came up short,” Warnimont said. “In the second game, you can’t overlook the single in the seventh by Kenyon, the bunt that Grant put down or the job that Yates did to get us out of the jam in the top of the seventh. We had different guys step up. Everybody battled. It was an emotional day, no doubt. But we’re still alive and that’s all we can ask for.”
Rio Grande returns to action on Tuesday afternoon, hosting Miami-Hamilton in a non-conference tilt at Bob Evans Field.
First pitch is set for 4:45 p.m.