April 20, 2008
Bledsoe and Kirsch Homers Fall Short in Sweep to ESU
EMPORIA, Kan. - The Northwest Missouri state baseball team dropped a pair of ball games to No. 4 Emporia State 20-3 and 10-9 in extra frames. Ryan Bledsoe and Brandon Kirsch each hit game changing home runs in game two, but Emporia hit the game clincher in the tenth inning.
Northwest drops its sixth straight game, falling to 22-20 (12-14 MIAA) and Emporia extends its winning streak to 35 games, now 42-3 (28-0 MIAA).
Emporia plated 10 runs in the first and sent 13 batters to the plate. Starter Brett Harvel hung tough after the first and went 3 2/3 innings longer, allowing three runs.
Northwest plated their first run in the sixth inning with a one out single by Chris Benham. Nick Pfieffer completed the scoring in the third on a two-out single driving in Bledsoe.
Britt Westman finished 3-for-4 with a double, moving him into second all-time on the hits list with 228. Westman passed Adam Bailey and needs 12 more hits to become the all-time hits leader, held by John Bothof.
Emporia right fielder Eric Shortell tied an MIAA record with four home runs and finished the day with six round trippers.
Joel Epley did his job in game two keeping the Bearcats within striking distance through his 6 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed five runs on 11 hits and struck out three and got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the third.
Each team would score one run in the first and second inning, but the Hornets added one in the third to take a 3-2 lead. A two run home run in the fourth by Shortell gave Emporia a 5-2 lead.
The Bearcats cut into the small margin with a double by Ben Malick in the seventh scoring Bledsoe. Northwest flew out twice to start the eighth before Benham started a two-out rally with a single. Jake Bradshaw followed with a walk and head coach Bob Fornelli went to the bullpen for a new pitcher.
Bledsoe then sent a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall, his fourth home run of the season, and gave the Bearcats a late inning lead.
The Hornets recaptured the lead in the bottom half when Shortell matched Bledsoe's three run home run to give Emporia an 8-6 advantage.
Trailing by two, Malick led off the ninth with a single to right and two batters later Kirsch tied the game with a two-run shot to left. It was the second game tying home run in the ninth for Kirsch in his career.
With two-outs and nobody on, Jon Henne Jr. doubled to right center and Benham drove in the go-ahead run.
Evan Nickell, who replaced Epley in the seventh, went to the rubber in the bottom of the ninth. The Hornets were down to their last strike when Andy Anderson singled up the middle to score Kellen Lane and notch the game at nine.
In the tenth, Bledsoe doubled to left center with one out but was stranded and gave the Hornets a chance in the bottom half. Nickell retired the first two batters before Keith Hernandez popped a ball over the left field fence for a walk-off home run.
Bledsoe and Malick each finished with a season-high four hits. Kirsch and Bledsoe drove in three runs and Benham added two RBI's.
UP NEXT: Northwest travels to Kearney, Neb. for a single nine-inning game against the Lopers on Tuesday, April 22. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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