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BETHANY WALKS OFF WITH 9-8 WIN OVER THIEL
April 7 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Senior Chris Leasure (Stafford, Ohio/Monroe Central) broke the school’s career home run record, but it took a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bison a 9-8 victory over visiting Thiel Wednesday afternoon.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for BC and raised their record to 10-7 overall and 2-4 in the PAC. In addition, it gives Bethany the series win over Thiel, who fell to 11-10 and 4-5 in the conference.
The Tomcats jumped on the board with two runs in the first, but Bethany answered with a pair in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore 1B Nate Tieman (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) reached on an error and later scored on sophomore RF Anthony Packer’s (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) RBI single. He would scoot home when Leasure started his big day by roping an RBI double down the left field line.
A hit batter led to a Thiel run in the second, but the Bison drew even again in the third. Packer hit an infield single to start the inning, reached second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out and came home on a ground out by junior 2B Eric Fudala (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands). The Tomcats would again grab the advantage by scoring one in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth to build a 6-3 lead.
Bethany chipped one run off the deficit in the last of the sixth when senior LF Mark Cummins (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) stroked a leadoff double and came home one batter later when freshman SS Ryan Owens (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) rolled a single back up the middle to get BC within 6-4.
In the seventh, the Bison rallied back to take their first lead of the day. With one out, freshman 3B Brad Kubis (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) singled, which was followed by a double from Fudala. The Tomcats changed pitchers and Leasure welcomed the new hurler by belting a three-run long ball to left field. Bethany wasn’t done in the inning, as Cummins followed the homer with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and touched home on an RBI single from senior catcher Josh Lawrence (Mather, Pa./Jefferson-Morgan) to make it 8-6 Bethany.
The go-ahead home run by Leasure was his third of the season and 19th of his career, which broke the Bethany career record of 18 that was set by Scott Deunger (1998-01) and equaled by Aaron Meadows (2003-06).
This time it was Thiel’s turn to post a comeback. The Tomcats plated a solo tally in the eighth to get within one run and after retiring the Bison in order in the eighth, they appeared to be in business with a single to start the ninth off Kubis. The BC closer moved within an out of the win when he induced the next batter into a 4-6-3 double play. However, Tomcat SS Bobby Hillier kept the game going with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and was able to tie the game when a Bethany error allowed him to score to tie the game at 8-8.
Bethany’s winning rally started immediately in the bottom of the ninth when Fudala, who led the offense by going 4-for-5, lined a single to right field. He moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and after a pop out, Fudala took third on a ground out. The Bison sent up junior PH Mike Pegg (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands), but he never had a chance to swing the bat. The first pitch to him was high and tipped off the Tomcat catcher’s glove to the backstop, allowing Fudala to sprint home and slide under the tag for the game-winning tally.
Five different Bison had multiple hits in the game, led by Fudala and Leasure, who was 3-for-5 with four RBIs on his record-breaking day. Posting two hits each was Kubis, Cummins and Packer, with the latter two scoring a pair of runs each.
Although he wasn’t able to nail down the save, Kubis picked up his first win of the season after throwing 1 2/3 innings of relief, as he gave up the one unearned run on two hits and struck out two. Junior Zach Grayson (McKeesport, Pa./South Allegheny) started and battled through 6+ innings.
Bethany will return to the PAC slate Friday when they host Waynesburg in one nine-inning game at 3 p.m. in the opener of a three-game conference series.