The Bethel baseball team stepped away from Crossroads League action on Tuesday to host the Golden Eagles of Cornerstone University. In the outing, BC landed a split as they fell in the opener 9-6 and then came back with a 4-3, eight-inning victory in the nightcap. The Pilots improve to 15-9 overall on the season while CU finishes the day 17-20.
In the opener, the Pilots and Golden Eagles both traded offensive outbursts that led to a 3-3 tie after one complete frame. In slightly unusual fashion, it was the long ball that pulled the Pilots back into the game after giving up three in the top of the first. Lead-off batter Austin Branock pounded a solo shot on a 1-0 count to trim the deficit to two after which Heath Brooksher one-upped Branock with a two-run dinger that tied the contest.
CU retook the lead in the third thanks to another three-run outing. The Pilots made their move in the bottom of the fourth but still trailed the Golden Eagles 6-5 heading into the final three frames. Another three-run outburst gave Cornerstone a sizable 9-5 advantage with just six outs left to be recorded. BC threatened in the bottom of the sixth by plating a run and loading the bases with the go-ahead run represented at the plate, but a timely 5-3 putout for CU closed the door on BC’s rally.
In similar fashion, the nightcap’s opening frame featured five runs, three of which were on BC’s side of the scoreboard. Trading pitchers like clockwork, the BC bullpen kept CU off balance and out of the scoring column until the top of the fifth. In the frame, a RBI single from Evan Wagner knotted the game with the sixth and seventh innings left on the docket.
After a few uneventful half innings, the Pilots had their chance in the bottom of the seventh. With bases loaded and the winning run just 90 feet away, CU came up with a game-saving fielder’s choice that extended the contest to extra innings. In the ensuing BC at-bat, the Pilots found a way to get the job done. With two outs, Seth Kermode drew a walk, and Brandon Diss launched a double into left that allowed Kermode to make his way to third. After an intentional walk given to Branock, Collin Affolder poked the game-winning RBI single into right field.
In the eight-inning battle that featured seven BC pitchers, Branock picked up the win after throwing one complete inning.
Next up for the Pilots is a Crossroads League nine-inning contest against (RV) Huntington University. The Foresters will make their way to Mishawaka on Thursday for a 3:00 p.m. start.