TOWSON, Md. – Freshman designated hitter Hunter Dolshun and sophomore third baseman Mark Esposito each had four hits to lead an 18-hit offense by UMBC (14-24) as the Retrievers overcame a 6-1 deficit to snap a six-game losing streak with a 13-8 victory over the Tigers at John B. Schuerholz Park on Tuesday afternoon.
The Retrievers rallied for five runs in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 lead. Sophomore righthander Mike Gomez then came out of the bullpen to pitch three strong innings and nail down the win, earning his first save of the season.
The victory was UMBC’s first win at Schuerholz Park since April 22, 2003. The Retrievers had lost 11 in a row since then.
UMBC used a two-out rally in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. With two outs, junior second baseman Vince Corbi drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. On a hit-and-run play, Esposito singled to left as Corbi reached third base. Junior rightfielder Jake Barnes lined a double inside the third base line, scoring Corbi with the first run of the game as Esposito reached third base. Senior righthander Greg Baruka escaped the jam with the help of junior first baseman Peter Bowles. Bowles made a great stop on a hard ground ball by Dolshun, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the first, the Tigers came back and tied the score. With one out, senior rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono was hit by a pitch. Bowles followed with a single to left. When senior Kurt Wertz lined a single to centerfield, Fratantuono scored the tying run. Freshman Brady Policelli kept the rally going with a hard single to right, loading the bases. However, junior Brendan Butler grounded into a double play and the scored remained tied at 1-1.
The Retrievers made a strong bid to take the lead in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded and two outs, sophomore shortstop Kevin Lachance popped up to third base.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers threatened to break the game open. With one out, Butler singled to left. On a hit-and-run play, senior second baseman Hunter Bennett singled to right, putting runners at first and third. A single to left by freshman Colin Dyer drove in Butler to give Towson a 2-1 advantage. However, the Retrievers turned another double play as junior Mike Draper grounded to short.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers added to their lead. Senior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella opened the inning by reaching base on an error. A walk to Fratantuono put runners on first and second base. When Bowles singled to left, the Tigers had the bases loaded with no outs.
Wertz grounded into a force play as Gonnella scored to give Towson a 3-1 lead. Moments later, Policelli blasted his third home run of the season, a three-run shot over the left centerfield fence. That gave Towson a 6-1 lead. A double by Butler kept the rally alive as junior righthander Shane Vlasic was relieved by junior righthander Johnny Dierks. After issuing a four-pitch walk to Bennett, he retired Dyer on a fly ball to left and struck out Draper.
Trailing by 6-1 in the top of the sixth, UMBC rallied. Dolshun and catcher Brandon Coluccio led off with back-to-back singles. At that point, freshman righthander Matt Allen relieved Baruka and gave up a double to leftfielder Rob McCabe, driving in a run. First baseman Connor Hax grounded to Draper at third base, who threw home to try and retire Coluccio. However, Coluccio got back to third and UMBC had the bases loaded. A walk to Lachance drove in a run to make it a 6-3 game. But Allen retired freshman centerfielder Andrew Casali on a fly ball to centerfield before Corbi grounded into an inning-ending double play.
In the seventh, the Retrievers scored five runs to take an 8-6 lead. Esposito led off with a single and Barnes belted a two-run homer. At that point, senior lefthander Kyle Paul came in to pitch. A single by Dolshun and a walk to Coluccio put two runners on base. Paul made a good play when he fielded a bunt by McCabe and threw to third base for the force. After both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, Hax struck out on a passed ball and reached base as a run scored. Another wild pitch enabled McCabe to score. A double by Lachance gave UMBC an 8-6 lead before Paul worked his way out of the inning.
UMBC added five more runs in the ninth inning. With one out, singles by Lachance and Casali started a rally. When Corbi grounded out, Lachance scored to give the Retrievers a 9-6 lead. An RBI single by Esposito drove in another run to make it a 10-6 advantage. When Barnes reached on an error, Esposito scored UMBC’s 11th run. Dolshun capped off UMBC’s big offensive day when he blasted a home run down the right field line.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers threatened. After Fratantuono was hit by a pitch, Spencer Sutton smashed a two-run homer to left centerfield, his second pinch hit home run of the season. After a double by Wertz, Policelli struck out and reached base on a passed ball. However, Gomez came back to strike out the next three hitters, ending the game.
Six hitters in the UMBC lineup had at least two hits. Lachance had two hits and drove in two runs while Esposito had four hits and one run batted in. Barnes had two hits and drove in three runs while Dolshun had four hits and two RBI’s. McCabe added three hits and Coluccio had a pair of hits.
Policelli led the Tigers with two hits and three RBI’s while Wertz had two hits and drove in two runs. Bowles, Butler and Dyer had two hits each.
The Tigers, who have lost six in a row, return to action on Wednesday night when they face Maryland in the Ripken Cup in Aberdeen, Md.