FORT MYERS, Fla. – Junior centerfielder Kevin Collins became the third player in Towson baseball history to hit for the cycle as he sparked the Tigers’ 23-hit attack to lead the Tigers (2-5) to a 17-16 victory over previously undefeated Boston College (6-1) in the third round of the Florida Gulf Coast University Classic at Swanson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers, who took a 17-10 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, had to hold off an Eagle rally which saw Boston College cut its deficit to 17-16 going to the ninth. However, senior righthander Josh Squatrito retired the Eagles in order in the ninth to preserve the win.
“There were some anxious moments at the end,” said Coach Mike Gottlieb. “But, I was pleased with the way we swung the bats. We kept putting offensive pressure on them and it turned out that we needed every run.”
Collins had a triple in the second inning, a single in the fourth, a three-run homer in the fifth, and a double in the eighth as he joined Jacen Martinez (1992 vs. Maryland) and Kyle Skellchock (2007 vs. George Mason) as the only Towson baseball players to hit for the cycle.
After the Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, the Tigers rallied to score four runs in the second inning. Senior Matt Collins led off the second with a walk and senior Aaron Gabrielian followed with a single. With one out, sophomore Austin Harclerode drove in the Tigers’ first run with an RBI single. Moments later, sophomore Steve Freinberg tied the game with a run-scoring double down the left field line. A sacrifice fly by senior second baseman Gary Helmick drove in Harclerode to give Towson a 3-2 lead. Kevin Collins capped off the inning with a triple down the right field line, giving Towson a 4-2 edge.
In the third inning, the Tigers extended their lead to 5-2 when Gabrielian’s RBI single drove in senior catcher Jason Stifler, who had walked.
Towson added four more runs in the fourth inning to make it a 9-2 lead. Helmick led off with a double to centerfield and he went to third base when Kevin Collins singled. A walk to junior third baseman Steve Yarsinsky loaded the bases. After Stifler hit into a force play, sophomore shortstop Chris Wychock lined a two-run double down the left field line to up the lead to 7-2. When Matt Collins doubled to left centerfield, two more runs scored and the advantage was 9-2.
After BC scored a run in the fourth inning, the Tigers added three runs in their half of the fifth inning, thanks to a home run by Kevin Collins. After Freinberg and Helmick singled, Kevin Collins blasted a three-run homer over the right field fence to put Towson ahead, 12-3.
Trailing by 12-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Eagles took advantage of two Tiger errors to score seven runs and get themselves back in the game. Coach Gottlieb used three pitchers in the inning before freshman lefthander Ben Winter pitched out of the inning.
With their lead cut to 12-10, the Tigers scored three more runs in the seventh inning. After Yarsinsky and Stifler singled, Wychock belted a three-run homer over the left field fence to make it a 15-10 lead. In the eighth inning, Towson added two more runs. With one out, Helmick singled and Kevin Collins completed his cycle with a double to rightfield. An RBI single by Yarsinsky gave the Tigers a 16-10 advantage before Kevin Collins scored on a wild pitch to put the Tigers up, 17-10.
Once again, the Eagles rallied to get themselves back into the game. Against Squatrito, Boston College scored six runs on six hits to pull within 17-16. Making his first appearance of the season Squatrito nailed down the win by striking out two of the three hitters he faced in the ninth inning.
Senior righthander Nate Curd earned his first win of the season for the Tigers. He pitched 5.2 innings and allowed three earned runs on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Kevin Collins led the Tigers’ 23-hit attack by going 4-for-6 with three runs scored and four RBI’s. Helmick, who has hit safely in all seven games this season, was three-for-five, his third three-hit game of the season. Wychock was 3-for-6 with a homer and five RBI’s while Yarsinsky and Matt Collins also had three hits each.
Towson closes out its weekend at the Florida Gulf Coast Classic on Sunday afternoon when the Tigers face the University of South Florida at 12:00 noon.