TOWSON, Md. – Sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz belted a double and a triple and drove in two runs to lead the Tigers (8-9, 3-2) to their second straight victory, an 11-3 Colonial Athletic Association win over George Mason University (11-8, 2-3) in the second game of the teams’ three-game Colonial Athletic Association weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Saturday afternoon.
Despite being held to seven hits, the Tigers scored 11 runs as they banged out four extra base hits while taking advantage of three walks and four Patriot errors.
The Tigers staged four rallies in the game, scoring three times in the first, third and eighth innings in addition to adding a pair of runs in the fifth.
With the Tigers clinging to a 6-3 lead in the fifth inning, sophomore righthander Chris Acker (right below) came in from the bullpen and shut down the Patriots the rest of the way. He ea rned his second win of the season by pitching 4.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing only one hit while walking two and striking out five.
The Patriots jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning and the Tigers were fortunate they only scored one run. Junior centerfielder Nick Allen singled on the first pitch of the game by freshman righthander Taylor Clarke. When senior third baseman Brig Tison also singled, the Patriots had runners at the corners with no outs. After senior rightfielder Dan Schafferman struck out, the Patriots tried a double steal. Tison was thrown out at second base as Allen scored the first run of the game. Senior designated hitter Zach Helgeson kept the rally alive with a double to left centerfield before junior second baseman Duncan Satherlie drew a walk. However, Clarke retired sophomore leftfielder Blaise Fernandez on a force play, ending the threat.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Tigers went to work against senior righthander Ryan Pfaeffle, who came into the game with a 2-0 record and a CAA-leading 0.41 E.R.A. Sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald led off the first by drawing a walk. After sophomore rightfielder Brandon Gonnella sacrificed him to second base, sophomore designated hitter Dominic Fratantuono launched a monstrous two-run homer over the rightfield fence on to Towsontowne Boulevard.
Freshman first baseman Brendan Butler kept the rally going when he blasted a triple to right centerfield. After Wertz drew a walk, senior centerfielder Ben Winter hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Butler to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
After giving up a run in the first inning, Clarke settled down and retired the Patriots in order in the next two innings. In the third inning, the Tigers took advantage of Pfaeffle’s control problems to add to their lead. Gonnella and Fratantuono opened the inning by drawing back-to-back walks. Wertz drilled a double to left centerfield, scoring Gonnella. Junior catcher Andrew Parker delivered the Tigers’ fifth run when he hit a sacrifice fly to center. Winter followed with another sacrifice fly, increasing the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
The Tigers maintained their 6-1 advantage until the fifth inning when Clarke started to struggle. Sophomore shortstop Jordan Hill led off with a single. Allen followed with a single before Tison popped out. Schafferman drove in the first run of the inning with a single to right. After Helgeson was retired on an infield popup, Satherlie singled to left centerfield, cutting the deficit to 6-3. At that point, Acker came out of the bullpen to relieve Clarke. He ended the threat by striking out Fernandez.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tigers upped their lead to 8-3. Butler opened the inning by reaching base when hit by a pitch. Wertz drove him in with a triple to right centerfield, his second three-base hit in as many days. After Parker struck out, Winter grounded out to first base as Wertz scored to give the Tigers their 8-3 advantage.
The Tigers put the game out of reach in the eighth inning with the help of some defensive lapses by the Patriots. The first three hitters in the inning, Winter, junior third baseman Zach Fisher and sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett, all reached base on infield errors by George Mason. With one out, Gonnella singled to right, driving in Winter. Fratantuono delivered the second run of the inning when he grounded into a force play. An RBI single by Butler gave the Tigers an 11-3 lead. After Wertz drew a walk to load the bases again, Branden Bartlett came in from the bullpen and struck out Parker.
Despite the loss, George Mason outhit Towson, 10-7. Allen and Hill led the Patriots with two hits each. However, the Patriots only had one hit after the fifth inning and that was a two-out single in the eighth inning by catcher Ray Toto.
Wertz went two-for-three with a double and a triple and two runs scored. He also drove in a pair of runs and walked twice. Fratantuono had one hit and drew a walk. He scored twice and drove in three runs. Butler also reached base four times. He hit the first triple of his career and also singled. He scored three runs with one RBI. He walked once and was hit by a pitch once.
The Tigers and the Patriots will close out their three-game CAA weekend series on Sunday afternoon at Schuerholz Park at 1:00 p.m.