FAIRFAX, Va. - Freshman rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono went two-for-three, drew two walks, scored three runs and drove in three more as the Tigers (20-21-1, 11-10) handed George Mason University (18-28-1, 5-19) a 12-5 Colonial Athletic Association loss in the third and deciding game of their three-game weekend series at Spuhler Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers, who have won 14 of their last 19 games, won the series opener on Friday by a 12-4 margin before the Patriots rallied for a 10-9 victory on Saturday.
Fratantuono led the Tigers' 16-hit attack as every player in the starting lineup had at least one base hit.
Freshman righthander Chris Acker (left) earned the victory for the Tigers as he upped his record to 3-0 on the season. He pitched 6.2 innings and allowed four runs on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. With one out, senior rightfielder Steve Rice singled to centerfield. Senior third baseman Chris Wychock followed with a double to left centerfield as Rice scored the first run of the game. But, the Tigers couldn't add any more runs as senior centerfielder Ben Winter grounded out and freshman designated hitter Brandon Gonnella was retired on a pop-up.
After retiring the first five hitters he faced, Acker gave up a solo home run to junior first baseman Zack Heglesen with two outs in the second inning. Heglesen's 14th homer of the season and his second home run of the series tied the game at 1-1.
In the third inning, the Tigers regained the lead. Fratantuono led off with a single to centerfield. He moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by senior shortstop Nick Natoli. After freshman second baseman Pat Fitzgerald was retired on a fly ball to rightfield, senior first baseman Austin Harclerode drew a walk. Sophomore catcher Andrew Parker gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead when he singled to centerfield as Harclerode took third base. The Tigers missed a chance to add more runs when Harclerode and Parker tried to pull off a double steal but Harclerode was thrown out at the plate by sophomore second baseman Christopher Cook.
In the top of the fourth inning, Rice led off with a walk. After Wychock was retired on a fly ball to centerfield, Winter singled to centerfield. When Gonnella singled to centerfield, Rice scored to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Then, Fratantuono launched his third home run of the season over the rightfield fence, a three-run shot that gave Towson a 6-1 advantage.
The Patriots rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning to trim their deficit to 6-3. With one out, junior designated hitter Dan Schafferman smashed a solo home run over the left field fence to make it 6-2. With two outs, senior leftfielder Shane Davis singled to left field. He came around to score when Heglesen doubled down the left field line, making it a 6-3 lead. But, Acker escaped the inning with no further damage when he retired sophomore centerfielder Nick Allen on a ground ball to first base.
After giving up the three-run homer to Fratantuono, junior righthander Ryan Pfaeffle settled down and shut out the Tigers until leaving the game after the sixth inning. He was replaced by freshman lefthander Jake Kalish. Natoli, the first hitter he faced, doubled to left field. After Fitzgerald sacrificed him to third base, Harclerode singled to rightfield, driving in Natoli to make it 7-3. After Kalish picked Harclerode off first base, Parker singled. However, Rice was retired on a fly ball to rightfield, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Allen led off with a single to leftfield. Senior catcher Dan Lyons was retired on a fly ball to leftfield. While Acker struck out freshman shortstop Jordan Hill, Allen stole second base.
With two outs and Allen on second base, Acker was relieved by Gonnella.
Cook greeted Gonnella with a two-run homer to rightfield, cutting the Tigers' lead to 7-5. Senior rightfielder Brig Tison followed with a single to leftfield, bringing the tying run to the plate. But, Gonnella struck out Schafferman on a 1-2 pitch, escaping the jam.
In the top of eighth, the Tigers added three more runs. Facing sophomore righthander Brandon Kuter, Wychock drew a leadoff walk. When Winter singled to rightfield, the Tigers had runners on first and second. After Gonnella struck out, Fratantuono walked to load the bases.
Freshman righthander Neight Hoffa relieved Kuter with the bases loaded and one out. Natoli singled to rightfield to drive in a run but Winter was thrown out at the plate trying to score for the second out. With runners on second and third, Fitzgerald singled through the right side to drive in Fratantuono while Natoli scored on an error by Lyons, giving the Tigers a 10-5 advantage. The Tigers loaded the bases on a walk to Harclerode and when Parker was hit by a pitch. Junior righthander Brandon Bartlett relieved Hoffa and retired the side by getting Rice on a fly ball to centerfield.
In the bottom of the eighth, Gonnella retired the Patriots in order.
In the ninth inning, the Tigers put the game out of reach. Wychock led off with a double and went to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Winter. Gonnella drove Wychock home with a triple to rightfield, making it an 11-5 lead. Fratantuono kept the inning alive by drawing a walk. A sacrifice fly by Natoli scored Gonnella to make it a 12-5 advantage. Fitzgerald struck out to the inning.
Gonnella retired the Patriots in the ninth inning to secure the victory.
Gonnella, who pitched 2.1 innings of effective relief to nail down the win, led the Tiger offense by going three-for-five with two runs scored and two runs batted in. In 2.1 innings of relief, he allowed one run on three hits while striking out three.
Natoli, Parker, Wychock and Winter each had two hits for the Tigers. Natoli, who batted .429 in the George Mason series, went two-for-four with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Parker, who hit .417 against the Patriots, was two-for-four with one RBI. Wychock, who had a .455 batting average in the Mason series, was two-for-four and scored two runs with one RBI. Winter was also two-for-four with one run scored.
Helgesen led the Patriots' nine-hit attack with two hits and two RBI's.
The Tigers will return to action on Tuesday evening with a non-conference game at Maryland.