Rams can't avoid Buffs' sweep

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Bluefield Rams were nothing but dust in the path of the Milligan College Buffaloes.
   Needing a solid weekend of baseball, the Buffs kept their Appalachian Athletic Conference title hopes intact Saturday afternoon with two victories to close a three-game sweep at Anglin Field.
   "There are four teams bunched in there together, and obviously, I felt like if we didn't sweep this weekend that we had a long battle ahead of us," said Milligan coach Danny Clark. "We couldn't take two out of three."
   "We took two out of three against King and we had to sweep somebody," he said. "It got us back in the hunt. There are four teams within a game."
   The Buffaloes (26-16 overall, 14-5 AAC) used spurts to take decisive leads in both games.
   "That's this team. We'll hit for one inning, then we'll go dead for five innings," Clark said. "The good thing is, here recently, that one good inning has been four or five runs at a time. I'll trade that out."
   Three players had two hits for the Buffs in the 6-4 victory in game one, while the squad withstood a five-run comeback in the seventh inning in their 6-5 decision during the second game.
   Milligan scored all six of their runs in the fourth inning of the second game.
   Brad Hitch and David Rusaw both had RBI singles in the frame, while Will Little and Nathan Meade squeezed runs across the plate. The Buffaloes also used mistakes by Bluefield's starting pitcher Jamie Schrock on two runs from Nathan Chandler and Brad Hitch.
   The home squad's starting pitcher, Chris Shockley, retired 13 straight batters, including four by strikeout, to open the game.
   Things got shaky for the senior in the final frame.
   Robby Lanthan opened the stanza for the Rams with a solo shot, while a sacrificed RBI attempt from Rocky Shelton, a wild pitch and a two-run double courtesy of Reggie Huguet closed the game at one.
   Shockley held onto the victory as Todd Speas came on for two pitches, recording the save on a pop out.
   "That's Shockley's first start in years," Clark said. "We've been using him in the bullpen and I thought he came out and threw the ball well today."
   "The biggest thing right now is that our bullpen is a little thin and I just kept thinking 'I've got to stretch him out a little bit,'" he said. "Obviously, I would've (gotten him out) a little quicker, but our bullpen hasn't been producing."
   Chandler and Hitch each had two hits apiece in the second game for the Buffaloes. Jeff Johnson and Jon Booth did the same for the visiting team.
   The opening contest was almost a case of each team trying to outdo the other.
   Bluefield took an opening lead when Blake Williams scored on a ground out courtesy of John Whitt. The Buffaloes came right back, however, when Little singled and scored on a Meade liner.
   A solid defensive display swung in favor of the Rams, temporarily, when they regained the lead in their fifth inning frame when Tyler Fridley singled and scored on an errant throw.
   The Buffaloes got their big scoring spurt later in the stanza with four runs courtesy of a Ben Huff double, a Meade single and a passed ball and error from Bluefield's Shelton.
   The Rams' comeback attempt was halted in the seventh inning, after the unit tacked on another run in the sixth when Johnson and Whitt scored from a Cecil Hagwood double.
   Jacob McAllister took the win on the mound for Milligan after 6 1/3 innings of work. Nathan Chandler grabbed the save while Bluefield's Danny Henderson earned the loss.
   "I thought Jake threw the ball well," added the Milligan coach. "I thought we scored when we needed to, but we struggled early at the plate."
   "We struggled both games at the plate but Jake kept us in (the first one)," he said. "He's a spot type pitcher and he did what he needed to."
   Meade, Rusaw and McAllister each had two hits and a run in the opening game for the Buffaloes.
   Friday's Game
   Milligan 4
   Bluefield 3, 11 innings
   It took 11 innings to decide Friday night's thriller, with freshman Thomas Lister driving Dustin Price across the plate to swing the victory in Milligan's favor.
   Bluefield took a lead in the fourth after a sacrificed fly from Blake Williams.
   The Buffaloes returned the favor later in the inning with Rusaw scoring on a passed ball and an RBI single from McAllister bringing Brian Miller across the plate.
   Price came up big for Milligan in the fifth inning with a triple to score Rusaw. Bluefield tied it in the eighth with a two-run shot from Robby Lantham.
   Chandler picked up the win for the Buffaloes in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
   McAllister had three hits for Milligan, while Price added two.
   The Buffaloes continue play on Wednesday at Lee University.