March 12 - FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Paced by four hits from junior RF Anthony Packer (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) and three hits and three RBIs from sophomore 3B Brad Kubis (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell), the Bethany College baseball team scored a 9-5 victory over Susquehanna in the team’s season opener down in Fort Pierce, Fla.
The game had a good start for the Bison (1-0), as senior starting pitcher Zac Grayson (McKeesport, Pa./South Allegheny) struck out the first two batters in tossing a scoreless first inning. In the bottom of the frame, senior CF Tyler Dillinger (McKeesport, Pa.) stroked a leadoff single, took second on a ground out and scored when Kubis lined a two-out single to right field for a 1-0 BC lead.
Bethany’s advantage grew to 4-0 after three innings. In the second, senior LF Mike Pegg (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) cracked a leadoff double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and trotted home when junior 1B Nate Tieman (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) singled to left. Then in the third, senior 2B Eric Fudala (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) walked and Packer singled with one out. Kubis followed by bashing a double to deep left to score both runners and increase the Bison lead to 4-0.
Grayson was cruising on the hill through the first three innings, but allowed a single tally in the fourth, as Susquehanna (3-7) pushed home a run. Then in the fifth, the Crusaders struck for three runs with two outs, two coming on a double from Ben Anderson, and SU drew even on a two-out RBI single by Nick Ferlise.
The Bison wasted little time in responding. In the bottom of the fifth, Fudala, Packer and Kubis all singled with one out to load the bases and the go-ahead run scored on a fielder’s choice by Pegg. Sophomore DH Chuck Ziants (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) made it a 6-4 BC lead with an RBI single.
Bethany’s lead swelled to 9-4 with three more runs in the sixth. Freshman SS Taylor Fortney (Houston, Texas/Spring Hill) scored from third when Dillinger stole second and the throw went into center field. The last two runs came across on RBI singles from Fudala and Ziants.
Susquehanna trimmed one run off the Bison margin in the seventh, but senior Mike Kochman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Serra Catholic) finished off a strong four-inning effort by blanking the Crusaders in the final two innings. He earned the save for senior Adam Nyswaner (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette), who recorded the final out of the fifth inning.
Eight of the nine Bison starters in the line-up recorded at least one hit, as BC totaled 16 in the victory. Packer recorded his second career four-hit game and first since his freshman season, while Kubis, who hit .450 and drove in 44 to earn All-American accolades last year, picked up right where he left off with a double, two singles and three RBIs. Fudala, Pegg and Ziants all picked up two hits apiece as well.
Bethany will be back in action tomorrow when they play Earlham (Ind.) College in a twinbill at 10 a.m.