WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Junior righthander Michael Trionfo and sophomore righthander Chris Acker teamed up for a seven-hitter as they outdueled senior righthander Matt Davenport to lift the Tigers (13-12, 7-3) to a 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association victory over William and Mary (17-11, 5-5) in the opening game of their three-game weekend series at Plumeri Park on Friday evening.
With the win, the Tigers improved upon their best-ever CAA start as they won for the seventh time in ten CAA games. The Tigers also maintained their second place standing in the CAA, one game behind CAA-leading UNC Wilmington (13-12, 8-2).
Trionfo, who earned his CAA-leading fifth win of the season, pitched six shutout innings against the Tribe. In six innings, he allowed four hits, walked three and struck five. In his last three starts, Trionfo has won three games in a row. He has pitched 19.2 innings in those three starts and has a 0.46 E.R.A.
Acker gave up one run on three hits in three innings of work as he earned his second save of the season.
The CAA leader in E.R.A., Davenport pitched 8.1 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
For the Tigers, sophomore Pat Fitzgerald led off the game by reaching base when he was hit by a pitch. Fitzgerald advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore rightfielder Brandon Gonnella. (right) But, Davenport stranded Fitzgerald at second when sophomore Dominic Fratantuono lined out to first base and freshman Brendan Butler struck out.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Tribe loaded the bases with two outs. First baseman Michael Katz opened the inning with an infield hit. After Trionfo retired the next two hitters, rightfielder Josh Smith singled and shortstop Ryan Williams drew a walk. But, Trionfo pitched out of the jam by retiring senior catcher Chris Forsten on a popup to shortstop.
Davenport took a no-hitter into the fourth inning. But, he lost his no-hitter and his shutout in the fourth. Gonnella led off the inning with a double down the rightfield line. On the next pitch, Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when he doubled to right centerfield. Butler kept the rally going when he was hit by a pitch.
With two runners on base and no outs, Davenport got tougher. He struck out sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz on a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Then, he whiffed junior catcher Andrew Parker on a 3-2 pitch as Fratantuono and Butler pulled off a double steal. With two runners in scoring position, Davenport pitched out of the jam by striking out junior third baseman Zach Fisher on another 3-2 pitch.
When senior centerfielder Ben Winter and sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett struck out in the fifth inning, Davenport had struck out five hitters in a row. Fitzgerald lined out to second base for the third out of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, second baseman Kevin Nutter singled for the Tribe with two outs. After he stole second base, Trionfo retired centerfielder Ryan Brown on a ground ball to third base.
Both Davenport and Trionfo retired the side in order in the sixth inning.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Parker doubled to right, only the Tigers’ third hit of the game. But, Davenport pitched out of the jam when Fisher bunted Parker to third and Winter lined out to centerfield.
Trionfo was relieved byin the bottom of the seventh inning. Leftfielder Stephen Arcure greeted Acker with a single to centerfield. After Smith struck out, Arcure tried to steal second base but Parker threw him out, the third Tribe base runner who was out trying to steal. Williams grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the eighth, the Tigers tried to add an insurance run. With one out, Fitzgerald doubled down the right field line. After Gonnella grounded out to shortstop, Davenport issued an intentional walk to Fratantuono. The strategy paid off when Butler grounded into a force play, retiring the side.
After Acker retired the Tribe in order in the eighth inning, Wertz led off the ninth inning with the Tigers’ fifth hit of the game and their fifth double. After Parker bunted him over, Davenport was relieved by senior lefthander Cole Shain.
Fisher drove home the Tigers’ second run of the game when he hit a sacrifice fly to right as Wertz scored to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The Tribe threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Designated hitter Tedd Bower drew a leadoff walk. Bower advanced to second base when Katz was retired on a deep fly ball to left. Pinch hitter Jackson Shaver recorded the second out when he popped to left field for the second out.
Arcure broke up the shutout when he lined an RBI single to centerfield, cutting the lead to 2-1. When Smith also singled, the Tribe had the winning runs on base.
But, Acker struck out Williams to end the game.
The Tribe outhit the Tigers by a 7-5 margin.
Towson and William and Mary will play the second game of their series on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.