PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – In a game that featured 33 runs, 34 hits and 11 pitchers, the Baldwin Wallace University baseball team notched its second walk-off in three games by defeating Bluffton University 17-16 in the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Regional Park #9.
BW (7-1) jumped out to a commanding 8-0 lead after the first two innings, highlighted by home runs from sophomore infielder Jacob Bonner (Akron/Archbishop Hoban), senior outfielder Chase Knodle (Poland/Seminary) and sophomore outfielder Dudley Taw (Sheffield Lake/Brookside). Bluffton (4-1) slowly but surely began to make its comeback, cutting the lead down to 8-2 before the Yellow Jackets answered with two more runs off the bats of freshman utility player Alex Ludwick (Brunswick/Padua Franciscan) and junior first baseman Philip Wells (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Joseph's Collegiate). The Beavers added four runs in the fifth and four runs in the sixth before BW built up to an eventual 16-10 lead.
However, Bluffton did not back down and erupted for six runs in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game at 16-16. Pitching options exhausted, the Yellow Jackets sent senior All-Ohio Athletic Conference infielder Spencer Badia (Bellaire) to the mound in the top of the ninth inning with one out but the senior got into trouble. With the bases loaded and two outs, senior outfielder Ian Forster (North Olmsted) took the mound for his first collegiate pitching appearance and, on the first pitch, got the Beavers to ground out, sending the game into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Wells and Forster both walked, giving way to the top of the order when Knodle stepped to the plate and singled home the winning run to walk it off for the second game in three games.
Knodle and senior All-OAC catcher Trent Kaltenbach (Plain City/Jonathan Alder) led BW at the plate with 3-for-4 performances each. Marcum and Wells each had three RBIs while Ludwick and Bonner each scored three runs.
On the mound, freshman pitcher/infielder Nick Smith (Mentor) went 4.2 innings in his first collegiate start, giving up six hits, five walks and six earned runs with just four strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Justin Miller (Hilliard/Darby), junior pitcher Matt Kocur (Rocky River), senior pitcher Chad Kuebler (Toledo/Central Catholic), Badia and Forster all appeared in relief with Forster earning the win after getting out of the ninth inning jam.
BW will have a day to recover before taking on Moravian (Pa.) College for the second time on the trip on Wednesday, March 7, at 4 p.m. at the North Charlotte Regional Park #10.