Walk-Off Single in Ninth Gives Norse 7-6 Win Over Baseball

Zach Lopatka (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Zach Lopatka (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Highland Heights, Ky. - Northern Kentucky's Noah Fisher hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Norse to a 7-6 win over the Youngstown State baseball team on Saturday at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex.

The Penguins led three different times in the contest and didn't trail until the eighth, but the Norse scored in each of the last three innings to take a 2-0 lead in the opening Horizon League series for both teams. YSU had rallied with a run in the top of the ninth to tie the score at 6-6 before Fisher's walk-off liner that went off the top of Cody Dennis' glove at second base.

Jeff Wehler homered and scored the tying run in the ninth for YSU, which also got two hits apiece from Zach Lopatka and Steven D'Eusanio. Lopatka scored twice and drove in a run, and Wehler scored three times.

Will Haueter hit three doubles for Northern Kentucky, including one with an out in the bottom of the ninth that set up Fisher's RBI single. Andrew Bacon also had three hits for the Norse.

The Penguins got back-to-back singles to start the top of the second inning, and both runners scored to give YSU an early 2-0 lead. After Lopatka and Drew Dickerson singled, D'Eusanio hit an RBI single and Lucas Nasonti followed with a sacrifice fly.

NKU cut the margin in half with a run in the bottom of the inning, but Wehler's home run to start the top of the third put YSU back on top by a pair. The Norse tied the score at 3-3 in the home half when Haueter and Griffin Doersching hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning, and Bacon later drove in Doersching with a one-out single.

Youngstown State took the lead right back in the top of the fifth when an RBI double by Lopatka made the score 4-3. Wehler led off with a walk and stole second, and Trevor Wiersma walked as the last batter that NKU starter Kyle Service faced. Lopatka greeted Kaleb Meeks with a go-ahead double that plated Wehler and moved Wiersma to third, but Meeks ended the threat with consecutive strikeouts that minimized the damage.

The Penguins held their 4-3 lead until Haueter tied the game with a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the seventh. YSU answered to go ahead again in the eighth as Lopatka drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on Dylan Swarmer's RBI single to left. The Penguins had a pair of runners on, but an NKU pitching change shut them down again as Joe Martin came in to get two strikeouts and a ground out.

NKU tied the score two batters into the bottom of the eighth as Fisher hit a leadoff triple and scored on a single up the middle by Bacon with the infield in. The go-ahead run came across when pinch-runner Trey Bowden scored from second base on a throwing error by pitcher Brett Souder.

In the top of the ninth, Wehler hit a leadoff single and went to third on Blaze Glenn's single and an ensuing throwing error. Wiersma grounded out to plate Wehler with the tying run, but Martin retired the final two batters to keep the score knotted at 6-6.

Souder retired the first batter of the bottom of the ninth and had Haueter down 0-2 in the count before the NKU senior doubled off the wall in center. Souder got a big strikeout of Doersching before yielding the walk-off single by Fisher.

Marco DeFalco started on the mound for Youngstown State and allowed one run on two hits and two walks over three innings. He left the game with the Penguins ahead 3-1. The Norse scored five times, four of which were earned, in 4.1 innings off of Travis Perry. Souder came on with one out in the eighth and ended up being charged with the loss.

Four of YSU's runs went on Service's record, and the Penguins had six of their 10 hits in 4.1 innings off the NKU starter. Meeks and Martin combined to allow two runs on four hits and a walk over 4.2 innings.

The Penguins will try to take the series finale when the teams play on Sunday at noon.