Tigers Overcome UNCW In Series Opener, 15-7
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 03/18/2011
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Chris Wychock had two hits and four RBI's against UNC Wilmington.
Courtesy:PJ Dunn

TOWSON,  Md. - Senior third baseman Chris Wychock had two hits, including a grand slam home run in the third inning, as the Tigers (5-11-1, 1-3) overcame an early 5-0 deficit to hand UNC Wilmington (11-7, 3-1) a 15-7 Colonial Athletic Association loss in the opening game of their three-game weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Wednesday afternoon.

While scoring a seasonal high 15 runs, the Tigers banged out 14 hits and took advantage of five errors by the Seahawks as they earned their first CAA win of the season. The Tigers, who scored 11 unearned runs in the victory, snapped a six-game winless streak.

With the score tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers took the lead for good. Freshman leftfielder Dominic Fratantuono led off the inning with a single to left. After senior shortstop Nick Natoli sacrificed him to second base, freshman second baseman Pat Fitzgerald singled to left field to give the Tigers runners on first and third. Facing sophomore righthander Andrew Harnage, Fitzgerald and Fratantuono pulled off a double steal, giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead. Wychock reached base when junior leftfielder Cameron Cockman dropped his easy fly ball, giving the Tigers runners on first and second with one out.

Sophomore catcher Andrew Parker was hit by a pitch to load the bases. When senior first baseman Austin Harclerode grounded out to second base, Fitzgerald scored to give Towson a 9-7 advantage. UNCW Coach Mark Scalf then called for freshman lefthander Kelly Secrest to pitch to junior centerfielder Ben Winter. A lefthanded hitter, Winter foiled the strategy by smashing a two-run double to right centerfield, upping the lead to 11-7.

After senior righthander Spencer Patton shut out the Seahawks over the next two innings, the Tigers add some insurance runs in the eighth inning as they scored four more runs with the help of another error.

The Tigers' third four-run inning of the game started when Parker was hit by a pitch and Harclerode reached on a bunt single. After Winter bunted the runners over, Rice drew a walk to load the bases.

The Seahawks appeared ready to escape the jam when freshman Brandon Gonnella hit a one-hopper back to the mound, a potential double play ball. However, junior pitcher Brian Rhino made a wild throw to home plate for the Seahawks' fifth error of the game and the Tigers owned a 12-7 lead.

Sophomore righthander Tom Timoney, the seventh pitcher of the game, came out of the bullpen and struck out Fratantuono for the second out of the inning. But, when he was called for a balk, the Tigers added another run. A two-run single to left by Natoli upped the Tigers' lead to 15-7.

The way the game started, it didn't look like the Tigers would earn their first CAA win of the season.

In the first inning, the Seahawks wasted little time jumping on senior righthander Tyler Bugna.  Cockman led off the game with an infield single. Moments later, senior designated hitter Alex Hill blasted a two-run homer over the rightfield fence to give the Seahawks a 2-0 advantage.

Junior third baseman Matt Campbell kept the inning going when he drilled a double down the leftfield line. Campbell moved to third base when sophomore first baseman Hunter Ridge grounded out to shortstop. Junior rightfielder Andrew Cain upped the Seahawks' lead to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

In the second inning, junior catcher Thomas Pope drew a leadoff walk. He moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior shortstop Jake Koenig and reached third base when sophomore Michael Bass hit a fly ball to rightfield. Cockman's second hit, a single to left, drove in Pope to give UNCW a 4-0 advantage.

The Seahawks added another run in the third inning. Campbell led off with a single through the left side. On a hit-and-run play, Ridge grounded out to shortstop as Campbell reached second base. After moving to third base when Cain grounded out to second base, Campbell scored on a single by LaGrange to up the lead to 5-0.

After breezing through the first two innings, junior righthander Tyler McSwain struggled in the third inning as his infield defense betrayed him. With one out, Fratantuono reached on an error by LaGrange, the second baseman. After Natoli drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, the Tigers loaded the bases when Fitzgerald reached on an error by Koenig, the shortstop.

The Tigers took advantage of their opportunity when Wychock smashed a grand slam home run over the left centerfield fence. It was the Tigers' first home run at Schuerholz Park this season and his third homer of the year.

The Seahawks missed a great chance to build on their lead in the fourth inning. After Bugna walked Koenig to start the inning, he was relieved by Patton. Before retiring anyone, Patton made a throwing error trying to pick Koenig off first base. Koenig reached third base with no outs. However, Patton came back to retire Bass on a soft line drive to second base before Cockman grounded out to third base. When Hill lined a ball toward centerfield, Natoli made a leaping catch to rob him of a hit and retire the side.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers tied the score at 5-5. Senior rightfielder Steve Rice led off with a single and moved to second base when Gonnella bunted him over. Rice scored the tying run when Fratantuono doubled down the rightfield line.

The Tigers took a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Parker started the rally when he singled to leftfield. A single by Harclerode gave the Tigers runners on first and second base. When junior centerfielder Ben Winter lined a single to rightfield, Parker scored to give Towson a 6-5 advantage. A sacrifice fly by Rice drove in Harclerode, upping the lead to 7-5.

LaGrange and Pope led off the sixth inning with back-to-back singles for the Seahawks. Both runners moved up a base when Koenig bunted. On a ground ball to second base by Bass. LaGrange scored to make it a 7-6 game. Pope scored the tying run when Cockman lifted a fly ball to rightfield that Rice misjudged, resulting in a double. Patton retired the side when he struck out Hill.

The Tigers responded with another four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave them a lead they never relinquished.

Patton, who pitched 4.1 innings of relief, earned the win for the Tigers. He allowed two runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Junior righthander Tyler Austin nailed down the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.

Six Tigers had two hits each. While Wychock had two hits and four RBI's, Winter added two hits and drove in three runs. Natoli had two hits and two RBI's while Parker singled twice and scored three runs. Fratnantuono and Harclerode also had a pair of hits.

Cockman and Campbell led UNCW with three hits each.

Towson and UNC Wilmington continue their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon at 1:00. Sophomore righthander Michael Trionfo of Towson will face UNCW's senior righthander Daniel Cropper.

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