TOWSON, Md.- Freshman righthander Paul Beers and six relief pitchers combined to pitch a two-hit shutout as the Tigers (5-5) won its fourth consecutive game, an 11-0 non-conference victory over UMBC at John B. Schuerholz Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Making the first start of his college career, Beers earned his first collegiate victory by pitching four shutout innings. In four innings, he allowed only one base runner.
In the first inning, freshman leftfielder Ian Glassman singled. However, he was erased when senior first baseman Max Himmelstein grounded into a double play. In four innings of work, Beers faced the minimum 12 batters and struck out six.
He was relieved by freshman righthander Nick Cioffi, who threw two shutout innings with two strikeouts. In the final three innings, Coach Mike Gottlieb used five relief pitchers who combined to nail down the Tigers’ second shutout of the young season.
Tiger pitchers have now thrown 17 consecutive shutout innings at home. In three home games this season, Tiger pitchers have a 0.76 E.R.A.
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead as they scored a first inning run for the fifth consecutive game. Sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald led off with a single up the middle. After he stole second base, he advanced to third on a fly ball to center field by sophomore Brandon Gonnella. Moments later, he scored the first run of the game when sophomore designated hitter Dominic Fratantuono singled.
In the second inning, the Tigers added another run. With one out, freshman leftfielder Peter Bowles singled. Bowles advanced to third base when junior third baseman Zach Fisher doubled to right field. Sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett followed with a perfect squeeze bunt to score Bowles as Bennett beat the throw to first base for a single. UMBC escaped with no further damage when Fitzgerald grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Tigers increased their lead to 3-0 when Gonnella led off the third inning with the first home run of his career, a solo shot over the right field fence. The Tigers threatened to add more runs in the third inning. After Fratantuono walked and junior catcher Andrew Parker was hit by a pitch, the Tigers had two runners on base with no outs. On a hit-and-run play, senior centerfielder Ben Winter hit a fly ball to right center field. Junior centerfielder Tom Gilchrist caught the ball on the run and fired it to freshman shortstop Jake Barnes, retiring Fratantuono. Barnes threw to first base to Himmelstein at first base, competing the triple play.
The Tigers increased their lead to 4-0 in the fifth inning. Fitzgerald led off with a single. He reached second base on a wild pitch and scored on Parker’s two-out single to left field. When Winter led off the sixth inning with a solo homer down the right field line, the Tigers upped their lead to 5-0.
After Beers was taken out of the game after the fourth inning, Cioffi came in to relieve him. Cioffi pitched two shutout innings and struck out two batters.
Senior righthander Tyler Austin came out of the bullpen to pitch the seventh inning. Glassman drew a walk to open the inning and Himmelstein followed with a single, the Retrievers’ first hit since the opening inning. Freshman Anthony Gatto bunted both runners into scoring position. However, Austin preserved the shutout by striking out Gilchrist and retiring junior Mike Schmidt on a fly ball to centerfield.
The Tigers took their 5-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning when they broke the game open. They scored six runs on only two hits and an error. The Tigers loaded the bases on a walk to Fitzgerald, an infield single by Gonnella and a walk to Fratantuono. Fitzgerald came in to score when Parker was hit by a pitch.
With one out, freshman first baseman Brendan Butler singled to right, scoring two runs, upping the lead to 8-0. A walk to Bowles loaded the bases again. When Fisher drew another bases-loaded walk, another run scored. Bennett reached base on an error by Himmelstein as Butler scored. When Fitzgerald drew his second walk of the inning, another run scored to make it an 11-0 lead. UMBC finally got out the inning when Gonnella grounded into a double play.
In both the eighth and ninth innings, the Retrievers threatened to ruin the shutout. In the eighth inning, Curtis Schickner drew a leadoff walk but was stranded at third base when junior righthander Mike Volpe struck out catcher Rob McCabe.
In the ninth inning, Glassman drew a leadoff walk. He reached third base with two outs. But, pinch hitter Michael Pesci was retired on a fly ball to right, ending the game.
The seven Tiger pitchers combined to allow only two hits with three walks and ten strikeouts.
Batting leadoff for the first time this season, Fitzgerald reached base four times on two hits and two walks. He scored three runs and drove in a run. Gonnella and Fisher also had two hits while Parker and Butler had two RBI’s each.
UMBC’s defense actually kept the Retrievers in the game as UMBC turned five double plays and one triple play.
The Tigers open their Colonial Athletic Association schedule this weekend with a three-game series at Virginia Commonwealth.