UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - Having a knack for the dramatic as of late with how their games finish, the Saginaw Valley State University baseball team didn't disappoint once again on Saturday (Apr. 26). After posting a 6-3 victory in the team's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener against the Ohio Dominican Panthers, the Cardinals earned an extra-inning 5-4 walk-off victory in the nightcap.
The second victory marked the fifth walk-off win for SVSU in the past two weeeks, as the Cards improved to 15-22 overall and 12-15 in the GLIAC. The Cardinals got in front with early scoring in both of the games.
Ohio Dominican took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by Anthony Raschilla.
Saginaw Valley responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame, going for three runs to grab the 3-1 lead. Michael Craig led things off with a single and he was driven-in on a Brad Schalk triple to right field. A Kyle Kaufmann groundout plated Schalk for the second run. After a pair of walks, an RBI single from Dylin Eschenburg allowed Luke Valutis to cross the plate with the third run.
After SVSU starter Andrew Geese retired ODU in order in the top of the second, the Cardinals tacked-on two more runs to take a 5-1 lead. Connor Foley walked and moved up to third on a pair of wild pitches. A Schalk sacrifice fly would then score Foley. An RBI single from Kaufmann followed, as he scored Chris Perkovich, who reached base via the walk.
Saginaw Valley added another run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 6-1. Craig reached base on a fielder's choice and promptly stole second. The throw from the catcher was errant and he would move up to third as the ball trickled into center field. Schalk would then punch a single through the left side to score Craig.
The Panthers got to Geese for another two runs in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3. D.J. Reetz would enter the game in relief for SV with one out and runners on first and second. The first batter he faced would strike out and ODU runner Kyle Tisdale was thrown out at third on a steal attempt, ending the inning with the three run advantage for SV.
Reetz would then go on to set down the Panthers in order in the top of the seventh, sealing the victory. It was Reetz's second save of the 2014 season. He saved the win for Geese, who improved to 4-3 on the year while working 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking-out seven batters.
Schalk had two hits with a triple and three RBIs in the game. Kaufmann had a hit and two RBIs while Eschenburg had an RBI single.
The Cardinals did all of their scoring early in the second game. All four runs SVSU scored in the first seven innings came in the bottom half of the second. Kaufmann and Valutis started things off with consecutive singles. They advanced to second and third on a balk. Eschenburg would follow and line-out to center field and, with the ball deep enough, it scored Kaufmann with the sac fly. K.J. Neibauer was up next and he knocked a grounder through the right side to score Valutis. Perkovich would add an RBI single to score Neibauer and a later Craig single plated Foley, who also reached on a single.
The Panthers responded the next half-inning, going for a pair of runs in the top of the third to make the score 4-2. ODU would add another in the fourth to make it 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, SVSU was within one out of sealing the win when Dominican used a pair of singles wrapped around a stolen base to tie the game at 4-4.
SVSU had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the inning, but the Panthers got a key double play to end the threat and send the game to extra-innings.
SVSU reliever Jeff Schalk, who entered the game in the fifth inning, set Ohio Dominican down in order in the top of the eighth.
After a pair of errors from the Panthers in the bottom of the inning, SVSU had guys on first (Neibauer) and second (Eschenburg) with one out. Foley grounded into a fielder's choice that set up first and third with two outs, as Eschenburg moved up to third. Perkovich stepped up to the plate next and would drill a grounder up the middle that made it past a diving shortstop, scoring Eschenburg with the game-winning run.
Schalk earned the victory on the mound in relief, tossing four innings while allowing four hits, a single run and recording two strikeouts.
Perkovich had two hits and two RBIs, including the game-winner. Craig had a hit, RBI and two walks. Neibauer had a hit and an RBI and Eschenburg had the only other RBI in the game.
The two teams will return to the field for a single nine-inning game on Sunday (Apr. 27). First pitch is set for noon at the SVSU Baseball Complex.