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April 6 - CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – The Bethany College baseball team battled 23rd-ranked Thomas More down to the very last out, but the Bison’s hopes of upsetting the Saints came up a run short in a 15-14 loss Wednesday afternoon.

The loss drops BC’s record to 7-7 overall and 2-5 in the PAC. The Saints, who swept the conference series from the Bison, improved to 15-3 and 5-2.

The game was played with a stiff breeze blowing out of Thomas More Field, so offense would not be a concern on this day. Bethany raced to a 4-0 lead after two innings, helped in part by TMC errors. In the first, junior catcher T.J. Zarewicz (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) started a massive day at the plate with an RBI double and later scored on a Saints’ miscue. In the second inning, a sacrifice fly by freshman SS Taylor Fortney (Houston, Texas/Spring Woods) scored one and a throwing error on the same play allowed the fourth run to cross home.

After Thomas More bounced back with five runs in the third inning, which included a three-run homer, the Bison moved back in front 6-5 in the fourth frame when Zarewicz clubbed a bases-loaded double to score three. However, that was answered by three Saints runs in the last of the fourth, including two scoring on one BC error, and another Thomas More run in the fifth pushed its lead to 9-7.

The back-and-forth nature of the game continued in the sixth, as Zarewicz hit a two-run blast, his second of the season, to knot the score at 9-9. That only lasted until the bottom of the sixth when Thomas More’s Andrew Thole launched a three-run homer for a 12-9 TMC advantage.

Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh, but the runs were flowing again in the eighth. Zarewicz was the key again, stroking a two-run single to make it a one-run deficit and then it was tied when sophomore LF Alex Evans (Washington, Pa.) smacked an RBI single. However, Thomas More answered immediately in the bottom of the eighth. Thole hit a two-run homer to break the tie and the home team added a critical insurance run on a Brandon Nutini RBI double that pushed the Saints to a 15-12 advantage.

Bethany had one more charge left in the top of the ninth. Junior RF Anthony Packer (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) and freshman Dylan Wassel (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) hit consecutive singles to start the inning. After a fielder’s choice, junior 1B Nate Tieman (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) grounded out to score Packer, but it left the Bison with only one out left. Sophomore 3B Brad Kubis (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) kept the game alive with an RBI single to make it 15-14, but a fielder’s choice with runners on first and second ended the game and left Bethany tantalizingly close to forcing extra innings.

The Bison out-hit Thomas More 18-14 in the loss, led by Zarewicz, who was 4-for-6 with two doubles, a home run and eight RBIs. Senior CF Tyler Dillinger (McKeesport, Pa.) was 4-for-6 as well and scored five runs. Kubis chipped in with three hits and two RBIs and Packer stroked a pair of hits and scored twice.

The loss on the mound was charged to sophomore Ryan Styche (Buena Vista, Pa./Elizabeth Forward), who allowed three runs in the eighth inning and fell to 1-1 for the season.

Bethany now has two days off before starting its PAC series with Washington & Jefferson Saturday in a 1 p.m. twinbill at Bethany Park.