LAKE CHARLES, La. - Junior righthander Brandon Gonnella shut out McNeese State (0-3) on two hits through six innings while junior Mike Draper had four hits as the undefeated Tigers (3-0) completed a three-game sweep with an 8-1 win over the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Tigers are off to their best start since the 2004 season. They also completed their first three-game sweep on the road since May of 2002 when they won three straight from Drexel.
Draper led the Tigers' offense. He had the first four-hit game of his college career. Draper was four-for-five and scored two runs. He capped off his day when he blasted the first home run of his college career, leading off the eighth inning.
Gonnella shut out the Cowboys on two hits through the first six innings. He struck out four and didn't walk any one. Freshman righthander Lee Lawler came in to relieve Gonnella in the seventh and he allowed two hits in two shutout innings.
Trailing by 8-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cowboys avoided the shutout by scoring a run on four hits. They left the bases loaded when freshman Joe Patton retired Andrew Guillotte on a ground ball to third base to end the game.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, thanks to McNeese State's defensive troubles. Draper led off the inning with a double to left centerfield. With one out, sophomore centerfielder Richie Blosser singled to left as Draper reached third base. Junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald hit a bouncer back to the mound. But Bryce Kingsley's throwing error allowed Draper to score while Blosser reached third base and Fitzgerald got to second. When graduate student Zach Fisher grounded out to shortstop, Blosser scored to up the lead to 2-0.
Gonnella made the 2-0 lead stand up through six innings. In the seventh inning, the Tigers broke through with three runs. Shortstop Hunter Bennett drew a leadoff walk. Blosser's sacrifice bunt advanced him to second base. After Fitzgerald reached base on an error by third baseman Taylor Drake, Fisher singled to rightfield, driving in Bennett. With two outs and runners on second and third, junior Dominic Fratantuono lined a double to deep centerfield, scoring two runs and giving Towson a 5-0 lead.
When Draper led off the eighth inning with a single, the Tigers' lead was 6-0.
Junior Kurt Wertz added some insurance runs in the ninth inning when he smashed a two-run homer, his second of the season.
In three-game sweep, the Tigers outscored McNeese State, 30-15. Towson batted .301 as a team. Fratantuono was Towson's leading hitter as he batted .429 with a double, a home run and nine runs batted in. Butler hit .412 with three RBI's while Gonnella had a .364 batting average. Fisher hit a very productive .313 with five runs scored and five RBI's.
The Tigers' pitching was very impressive as the team compiled a 1.91 E.R.A. in the weekend series. Senior Mike Volpe and Gonnella each pitched six innings and had a 0.00 E.R.A. In 33 innings, Tiger pitchers walked only seven batters.
Towson returns to action this weekend with a three-game series at Nicholls State.