TOWSON, Md. – Junior lefthander Kyle Paul earned his first victory of the season as he scattered five hits in six innings of work, leading Towson University (16-16) to its third victory in its last four games, a 7-4 win over Maryland Eastern Shore (5-30) at John B. Schuerholz Park on Tuesday afternoon.
Paul allowed one run on five hits before leaving the game after six innings. He walked two and had one strikeout. He also received help from the Tiger defense as the Tigers turned two double plays. Towson leads NCAA Division I with 46 double plays in 32 games.
Although Paul left the game with a 6-1 lead, sophomore righthander Greg Baruka had to come in from the bullpen to earn his first save of the season. He pitched two shutout innings to nail down the win.
UMES wasted little time grabbing a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Junior centerfielder Stephen Bull led off the game with a triple down the rightfield line. After Paul retired freshman shortstop Mike Escanilla on a ground ball to third base, senior Tre-Von Johnson delivered the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to deep rightfield. Junior rightfielder Byron Campbell kept the inning alive with a double to left. However, Paul pitched out of the inning when he retired junior Jeffrey Fleetwood on a ground ball to first base.
The Tigers came right back and claimed the lead in the bottom of the first. Catcher Zach Fisher led off the inning by drawing a walk. After a single by junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald put runners on first and second, sophomore Peter Bowles grounded into a force play. Junior Dominic Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead when he doubled to deep centerfield, driving in a pair of runs. Fratantuono advanced to third base on the throw to home plate. Moments later, he gave Towson a 3-1 lead when he scored on a ground ball by Brendan Butler.
In the second inning, the Tigers added to their lead. Sophomore Richie Blosser led off by drawing a walk. Blosser went to third base when Fisher reached on an infield single on a hit-and-run play. A sacrifice fly by Fitzgerald enabled Blosser to score to give Towson a 4-1 advantage.
The Tigers added another run in the fourth inning. After junior shortstop Hunter Bennett led off with a single to left, Blosser drew a walk. When Fisher grounded into a force play, the Tigers had runners on first and third with one out. On a hit-and-run play, Fitzgerald grounded out to second base as Bennett scored to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, Cody Reeves drew a leadoff walk and Bennett hit a ground rule double to left. When Fisher lined an RBI single to right, Reeves scored to give Towson a 6-1 lead.
In the seventh inning, freshman righthander Garrett Walther replaced Paul. After retiring the first two hitters, Walther ran into trouble. Second baseman Joshua James got the rally started with a single to left. After James went to second base on a wild pitch, catcher Dustin Aigner singled to centerfield, driving in a run to cut the deficit to 6-2. Bull followed with an RBI double to left, driving in Aigner to make it a 6-3 game. When Escanilla singled, Bull scored to pull UMES to within 6-4. Walther finally escaped the jam by getting Johnson on a fly ball to right.
The Tigers added another run in the seventh inning when Fratantuono led off with a double and advanced to third base on an infield error. He scored on a wild pitch to up the Tigers’ lead to 7-4.
When Walther walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth inning, he was relieved by Baruka. Baruka allowed two hits and walked a batter in two scoreless innings of work.
The Hawks outhit the Tigers by an 11-9 margin. Bull and Escanilla each had three hits for the Hornets. Bull had a double and a triple and scored two runs.
Fratantuono led Towson with two doubles and two RBI’s while Fisher and Bennett also had two hits each.
The Tigers return to action on Tuesday afternoon when they face Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg at 4:00 p.m.