Walkoffs all around

Chris Sojka and Chris Sojka

Clutch is the best way to describe Ryan Shay’s and Jon Berti’s performances on the baseball field last weekend. After getting beat up in record fashion by Eastern Michigan last Wednesday 27-7, the Falcons came out and played great baseball, sweeping Ball State by scores of 3-2, 7-6 and 9-7 at Steller Field. ‘There were some very exciting games played at Steller Field (last weekend),’ Schmitz said. ‘A lot of guys came through, and that’s exactly what we want.’ Schmitz was not kidding when he said ‘exciting games,’ as the second game of a double header on Saturday was won on a walk-off single by Shay in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, and the game Sunday was won on a walk-off home run by Berti in the bottom of the 10th. Saturday (game one): BG 3, BSU 2 The Falcons had a great outing from starting pitcher Brennan Smith (2.59 ERA) who threw 115 pitches, struck out nine and allowed only four hits en route to a 3-2 victory. In the game, he picked off two runners and retired BSU in order three times. Opposing batters are now hitting a .188 against him for the season, and Schmitz is very pleased. ‘Smith was outstanding,’ Schmitz said. ‘He was dominating for eight innings. He really pitched great.’ The Cardinals took an early lead in the fourth inning on a one-out home run to left field by catcher Zach Dygert. The Falcons tied the game in the fifth when Mark Galvin and T.J. Blanton singled with one out and Patrick Martin singled up the middle to score Galvin. In the bottom of the seventh inning, BG scored two more runs. Again, Galvin and Blanton reached on consecutive singles. Shay reached on a swinging bunt, driving in Galvin and then Tyler Elkins singled up the middle to score Blanton. Falcon’s pitcher Dusty Hawk came in to start the ninth inning, and eventually earned his first save of the season. But it was no small feat. The first two batters he faced reached on singles. After a sacrifice hit moved the runners up one base, a sacrifice fly was hit by Ian Neilson, making the score 3-2. Hawk then retired the final batter on a fly-out to left field. Saturday (game two): BG 7, BSU 6 The Falcons came from behind in the second game of a doubleheader to post a 7-6 victory. BG scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 6-5 lead, but a BSU home run in the top of the ninth tied the game at six apiece. The Falcons loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, and then Shay came to the plate and hit a walk-off single to right field, bringing in Ryan Price from third base. ‘Ryan (Shay) strives on pressure situations,’ Schmitz said. ‘We knew he is a clutch hitter and he found a pitch he liked and drove it into right field.’ BSU scored in two of the first three innings and the Falcons scored in all three of the opening innings, but BSU had a 5-4 lead after three. The Falcons took their first lead of the game in the eighth inning when Blanton lead off with a single. He then came into score when Elkins hit a two-out triple to left center. Pitcher Charles Wooten got the win for the Falcons while Morgan Coombs took the loss. Sunday: BG 9, BSU 7 For the second game in a row, BG won the game on a walk-off hit. Berti hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, allowing the Falcons to come from behind and post a 9-7 victory. ‘Anytime someone gets to hit a walk-off home run is feeling,’ Schmitz said. ‘It was a great feeling to watch the players celebrate [with Berti] at home plate.’ The Falcons scored five runs in the fourth inning, but a ninth inning rally by BSU set up the extra inning ballgame. In the contest, Blanton had three hits for BG and Berti drive in a career-high four runs. Again, Wooten picked up the win for the Falcons. The Falcons (15-15, 5-5 MAC) have won seven of their last nine games and will return to the diamond this week with a game at Oakland University tomorrow.