TOWSON, Md. - Led by junior centerfielder Ben Winter, who had three hits and drove in three runs, the Tigers (17-20-1) exploded for a seasonal high 26 runs on a season best 22 base hits en route to a 26-7 non-conference victory over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (8-32) at John B. Schuerholz Park on Tuesday afternoon.
The Tigers, who used 20 players in the game, won for the 11th time in 15 games. The Tigers had a seven-run first inning and settled the issue with a 13-run rally in the sixth inning. The Tigers' 13 runs in the sixth inning were one run shy of the school record of 14 runs scored in one inning, a mark that was set in 2005 against Richmond.
The Tigers' 26 runs scored represent the second-highest single game total in school history, a mark that was topped only by the 30 runs scored against Richmond in Towson's 30-3 win in the 2005 season.
Of the 15 position players used by Coach Mike Gottlieb against UMES, 13 had at least one hit.
Winter and senior first baseman Austin Harclerode led the Tigers with three hits each. Harclerode had a single, double and triple and walked twice. The only Tiger starter to play all nine innings at one position, Harclerode scored four runs.
The Tigers, who banged out nine doubles, a triple and three home runs, were also the recipients of 13 walks by seven UMES pitchers.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Tigers staged their biggest inning of the season as they sent 12 batters to the plate. They scored seven runs on six hits to take a 7-0 lead.
Senior shortstop Nick Natoli started the rally when he lined a double down the left field line. Junior Winter followed with a single to short leftfield as Natoli advanced to third base. Righthander Zach Saca struck out senior third baseman Chris Wychock for the first out of the frame.
But, sophomore designated hitter Andrew Parker (right) blasted a long home run over the left field fence, a three-run shot that gave Towson a 3-0 lead.
Harclerode kept the inning alive by drawing a walk. Harclerode reached third base when senior rightfielder Steve Rice hit a double to left field. Junior catcher Brian Wyman drove in a pair of runs when he singled through the left side. After freshman second baseman Mike Draper was retired on a fly ball to centerfield, sophomore leftfielder Cody Reeves hit a ground ball to shortstop Jaime Newsome. Newsome's throwing error enabled Reeves to reach base as Wyman advanced to third base.
A walk to Natoli loaded the bases. Batting for the second time in the inning, Winter lined a single to left field to drive in two more runs and increase the Tigers' lead to 7-0. Saca escaped the inning by retiring Wychock on a fly ball to right.
In the second inning, the Tigers extended their lead to 8-0. With one out, Harclerode lined a triple to deep right centerfield. Rice followed with a double to drive in Harclerode before Saca pitched out of the inning.
The Tigers added three more runs in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Natoli blasted his first home run of the season over the left field fence to make it a 9-0 lead. It was the fifth homer of his college career.
On Saca's next pitch, Winter drilled his first home run of the season down the rightfield line for a 10-0 advantage. After Winter's homer, Saca was relieved by freshman righthander Sean Woods.
Wychock greeted Woods with a double to rightfield. With one out, he scored on a double by Harclerode. Walks to Rice and Wyman loaded the bases but Woods escaped the inning by getting Draper to ground out to shortstop.
Although the Tigers loaded the bases in the fourth inning, they did not add to their 11-0 lead.
Freshman righthander Chris Acker shut out UMES on one hit before running into trouble in the fifth inning. Elliott Alston led off the inning by drawing a walk. Jeffrey Fleetwood reached base on an error by Draper. After Cody Cauffman struck out, pinch hitter Lorenzo Christy singled to centerfield, driving in Alston to make it 11-1. After centerfielder Tre-von Johnson grounded into a force play to put runners at the corners, an infield single by Newsome drove in the second run of the inning. Moments later, catcher Luis Mena blasted his third homer of the season over the left centerfield fence, cutting the Hawks' deficit to 11-5. Acker ended the inning by striking out Nick Wiggins.
Acker, who earned his second win of the season, pitched five innings and allowed five unearned runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out six.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Tigers added two more runs to make it a 13-5 lead. A leadoff walk to Rice started the rally. After Rice stole second base, Draper doubled down the left field line to make it a 12-5 game. Back-to-back walks to pinch hitter Brady Baxter and Natoli loaded the bases for freshman Brandon Gonnella, who had replaced Winter in centerfield. Gonnella's ground ball to third base enabled Draper to score, giving the Tigers a 13-5 advantage.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers sent 18 batters to the plate as they broke the game wide open by scoring 13 runs. Pinch hitter Sean Adkins led off by drawing a walk. Walks to Harclerode and Rice loaded the bases with no outs. A bases-loaded walk to Wyman gave the Tigers a 14-5 lead. A single to centerfield by Draper drove in Harclerode to make it 15-5. With one out, pinch hitter Hunter Bennett singled to leftfield, driving in another run to give Towson a 16-5 lead.
An RBI single by Gonnella made it 17-5 before pinch hitter Pat Fitzgerald doubled to right centerfield, scoring two more runs to make it 19-5. Batting for the second time in the inning, Adkins doubled to right field, driving in another pair to give Towson a 21-5 lead. Harclerode kept the inning alive when he reached on an error. Pinch hitter Dominic Fratantuono followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, upping the lead to 23-5. After a single by Wyman, Draper reached on an error to load the bases. Then, Baxter cracked a double off the left centerfield fence to clear the bases and give the Tigers a 25-5 advantage.
It was the second extra-base hit of Baxter's career.
Bennett reached base when he was hit by a pitch. Then, Gonnella singled to centerfield driving in Baxter to make it 26-5. The inning finally came to an end when Fitzgerald was retired on a fly ball to left field.
In the eighth inning, the Hawks came back to score a pair of runs. After Shaquille Bagwell led off with a single, Brent Lewis smashed a two-run homer over the left field fence. But, the Hawks could get no closer.
While Winter and Harclerode led the Tigers with three hits each, Natoli, Gonnella, Rice, Wyman and Draper contributed two hits apiece.
Winter had three hits and three RBI's and scored two runs. Natoli banged out two hits, had one RBI and scored twice. Gonnella had two hits and drove in three runs while Harclerode scored four runs on his three hits. Rice had two hits, both doubles, and scored three runs.
Wyman went two-for-five with three runs scored and three RBI's. Baxter had three RBI's on one hit.
Acker and four relief pitchers combined to limit UMES to two earned runs on eight hits. Tiger pitchers issued four walks and struck out nine.
The Tigers return to action on Wednesday afternoon when they host Delaware State at 3:00 p.m.