By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio – Capital University began its four-game week on Tuesday afternoon with a non-conference game at Bluffton University and suffered a 5-4 walk-off loss.
With the game tied at four in the bottom of the ninth, Capital pitcher Scott Gutstein produced a fly out and swinging strikeout to start the frame. A walk to the next two Bluffton batters gave the Beavers a runner in scoring position but it would not have mattered as Gutstein got a groundball from Elisha Tressler. However, an error allowed Tressler to score. Alex Lemanski then stepped up to the plate for Bluffton and after going down 0-2 battled back to a full count. On what turned out to be the final pitch of the at-bat, Gutstein again forced a grounder but again Capital was unable to field it cleanly at second. The throw over to first pulled Shayne Lyons off the bag and Lemanski was safe and the winning run came home to score.
With the loss, the Crusaders fall to 4-12 overall this season.
Neither team was able to turn offense into runs until the third inning when the Crusaders struck first. Konnor Black led off the inning with a double and then Otto bunted him to third and Otto stood safely at first. However, a throwing error by Bluffton's pitcher allowed Black to score. After a strikeout, Lyons singled to move Otto ahead to second but another error by the Beavers allowed Otto to take third. Connor Richardson then grounded out to short but brought Otto home and Capital led 2-0.
Bluffton quickly responded in the bottom of the inning though with an RBI single and then a steal of home. The Beavers took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when C Gregory was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
In the seventh, a pair of one-out singles by Black and Otto forced a Bluffton pitching change but the new pitcher issued a walk to load the bases. He then proceeded to issue four-pitch free passes to both Lyons and Richardson and the Crusaders took a 4-3 lead.
The Beavers again tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single and then won it an inning later.
Lyons finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and now has a 13-game hitting streak. Black went 2-for-5 and Richardson went 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Freshman pitcher Tate Virts made his first career start for the Crusaders and allowed three runs in 4.0 innings. Senior Nick Beck then completed 3.1 innings of one-run ball in relief and Gutstein pitched the final 1.1 innings.
Capital will have little time off before hosting Mount St. Joseph University on Wednesday, March 27 at Clowson Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.