Senior Day Special: Falcons Win In Last At Bat For Second Straight Year
13abc.com Joe Nugent, Sports Anchor/Reporter - email
13 Bowling Green State University baseball seniors were recognized prior to Sunday's game against Ohio at Warren E. Steller Field, and it was senior Jeremy Shay who came up biggest of all. Shay hammered a one-out double off the wall in left-center field, scoring Jesse Rait all the way from first in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Falcons a 7-6, walkoff win. It was the second straight season which the Falcons have won on Senior Day in their final at bat. With the victory, Bowling Green now improves to 23-23 on the season and 13-11 in Mid-American Conference play.
Ohio jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning against left-handed pitcher Andrew Lacinak. Lacinak would retire the first two Bobcats he faced, but issued a four-pitch walk to third hitter Jake Madsen. Tyler Wells would make him pay, as he would lace a two-out double into the gap between left and center, scoring Madsen from first to give the 'Cats the early lead.
It wouldn't take long for the Falcons to respond, as they came right back with a run of their own in the home half. Brian Bien would begin the inning with a chopper in the hole between third and short, easily beating the throw from Ohio shortstop Garrett Black. Jake Thomas would lay down a sacrifice bunt to move Bien into scoring position, but Ohio pitcher Connor Sitz would mishandle the bunt and it allowed Thomas to reach safely on the error. With alert base running, Bien was able to move all the way to third on the error. Jeremy Shay would then ground out to third, but it was deep enough to score Bien and tie the game at a run apiece.
Both pitchers would settle in from that point on, shutting down the opposition over the next four innings. The game remained tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the sixth, where the Falcons would take advantage of some Ohio mistakes to grab the lead.
With just two hits through the first five innings, the middle of the Bowling Green order would need to step up to start the sixth against Sitz. Shay would get things started with a single to left field, extending his on-base streak to 15 consecutive games. He would be followed by T.J. Losby, who would extend his on-base streak to 22 straight games with a single up the middle. Both runners would advance into scoring position on a passed ball.
With two runners in scoring position and nobody out, Andrew Kubuski would lift a fly ball to left field, deep enough to score Shay from third to give the Falcons a 2-1 advantage. With two outs, Losby would score when an off-line throw from the OU shortstop allowed Lancaster to reach, and he would score on an RBI single from Logan Walker to put BGSU ahead 4-1.
The lead would hold into the top of the eighth, when a Bowling Green error would open the door for the Bobcats. The first batter of the inning would get things started with a single up the middle. The next batter hit what should have been a double play ball, but an errant throw from third base into right field would allow both runners to reach safely. The next batter would battle Lacinak long into the at bat, eventually winning it with a three-run home run just over the wall in left-center field to tie the game.
The Bobcats would add another run in the inning off reliever Jason Link, as another defensive error with two outs in the inning brought home an Ohio tally.
Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Losby would get things started with a double. That would be followed by a Kubuski single, and Bowling Green was in business with runners on the corners and nobody out.
Danny Schmitz would go to the bench for pinch-hitter Greg Basalyga, and he would tag a pitch off the wall in left field to tie the game at 5-5. A Lancaster sacrifice fly to center field would score Kubuski from third, and Bowling Green led 6-5.
Ethan McKenney would come into the game looking for the save, and would set down the first two Bobcat hitters in succession. The third hitter of the inning would keep the game alive with a single to left field.
With two outs and a runner on first, Ohio's Ty Black would slice a pitch towards Rait in right field. He would come on and dive, looking for a game-ending catch, but the ball would get by him allowing John Adryan to score from first and tie the game at six runs apiece. McKenney would work out of it from there, setting up the bottom-of-the-ninth heroics for the Orange and Brown.
After the leadoff hitter was retired in the ninth, Rait would get redemption with a single up the middle. Shay would crush a 1-2 pitch deep into the left-center field gap, allowing Rait to come all the way around from first base and beat the relay throw to the base for the Bowling Green victory.
The Falcons will take one final break from MAC play this week, as they will host Xavier on Tuesday at Steller Field. First pitch for that game is at 3:05 p.m. Following Tuesday's game, the Orange and Brown will travel to Buffalo to conclude the regular season with a three-game set versus the Bulls. That series will be Thursday-Saturday.