Top-ranked Shenandoah defeats Bridgewater, 11-5

bridgewater eaglesShenandoah University, the nation’s top-ranked team, defeated the Bridgewater College Eagles, 11-5, Wednesday afternoon in ODAC baseball action.

The Hornets improved to 16-1 overall and 2-1 in the ODAC while Bridgewater dropped to 8-11 overall and 2-3 in conference play.

Shenandoah jumped out to a quick lead with three unearned runs in the top of the first inning. Tristan Baker led off the game with a double to deep left, but Eagles’ lefty Jordan Showalter retired the next two batters. Hornets’ clean-up hitter Jake Loew chased a pitch low and away for strike three, but the pitch got away from Eagles’ catcher Chris King and his throw to first was high as Loew reached safely to keep the inning alive. Neil Dutton then singled to left to drive in the game’s first run and Nick Goode followed with a two-run double to left for a 3-0 Shenandoah lead.

The Eagles closed the gap with single runs in the first and third innings.

With two outs in the first, Kenner Berry walked and King followed with a RBI-double down the left-field line to make the score 3-1.

Brandon Poole led off the bottom of the third for the Eagles with a single up the middle and moved to second on Berry’s groundout. Poole advanced to third on King’s long fly ball to center and then scored on Brett Jones‘ two-out hit to left, pulling the Eagles to within one run, 3-2.

The Hornets put some space between the Eagles on the scoreboard with three runs in the top of the fourth. Singles by Michael Cruz, Baker and Abel Arocho loaded the bases with no outs. With one out, Loew singled through the right side, scoring Cruz to put the Hornets on top 4-2. Neil Dutton drew a bases-loaded walk to force home a run and Arocho scored on a grounder to second by Goode as the Hornets opened up a 6-2 lead.

Two more runs in the fifth put Shenandoah ahead 8-2. With one out, Cruz singled and Baker was hit by a pitch. Arocho popped out to left for the second out of the inning, but Dan Cameron came through with a clutch hit to right-center, scoring Cruz to make the score 7-2. Loew walked to load the sacks and Dutton was hit by a pitch, forcing Baker home to put the Hornets up 8-2.

Bridgewater got one run back in the bottom of the fifth. Singles by King, Jones and Jake Bailey loaded the bases with one out and ended the day for Hornets’ starter Zach Teeple. Michael Bugonowicz came out of the bullpen and gave up a sacrifice fly to JT Creed as the Eagles closed the margin to 8-3. Bugonowicz avoided further damage by retiring Jacob Talley on a pop fly to shortstop for the third out of the inning.

The Eagles moved to within striking distance with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jacob Talley led off with a double down the left-field line and Garrison Wright followed with a triple to the gap in left-center, trimming the Shenandoah lead to 8-4. Pinch-hitter Matthew LaPrade scored Wright with a ground ball to second, pulling the Eagles to within 8-5.

Loew provided the Hornets with some added cushion with one swing of the bat in the top of the ninth as his three-run homer to deep right pushed Shenandoah’s lead to 11-5.

Loew led the Hornets’ offense with a 3-for-5 day at the plate and four RBIs. Dutton and Goode added three RBIs each. Bugonowicz got the win with 4.2 innings of solid relief work He allowed two runs, both earned, no four hits. He struck out three and walked one batter.

Bridgewater finished the contest with 13 hits. Poole, King, Jones, Talley and Wright each contributed two base hits. Showalter took the loss on the mound as he gave up six runs, three earned, on eight hits in 3.1 innings.

The Eagles return to action Saturday against another ranked opponent as No. 9 Randolph-Macon visits Bridgewater for an ODAC doubleheader. The first game is set to begin at noon.