TOWSON, Md. – Junior righthander Michael Trionfo held George Mason University (11-7, 2-2) to one run and four hits in a seven-inning start as the Tigers (7-9, 2-2) handed the Patriots a 6-1 loss in the opening game of the teams’ three-game Colonial Athletic Association weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Friday afternoon.
Trionfo, who took a shutout into the seventh inning, blanked George Mason on two hits through six innings. The Patriots broke through when senior Zach Helgeson led off the seventh inning with a solo home run.
Trionfo left the game after seven innings with a 6-1 lead. In seven innings, he allowed one run on four hits with no walks and a career high seven strikeouts as he improved to 3-1 on the season.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz opened the inning with a single to right field. With junior catcher Andrew Parker at bat, Wertz stole second base. After Parker struck out, senior centerfielder Ben Winter lined a double to left centerfield on an 0-2 pitch, scoring Wertz to give the Tigers a 1-0 advantage. The Tigers made a bid for another run when junior third baseman Zach Fisher lined a shot down the first base line. But first baseman Mick Foley made a diving stop to rob Fisher of a hit and threw to sophomore righthander Anthony Montefusco for the out as Winter advanced to third base. Montefusco ended the inning by striking out sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett.
In the third inning, sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald led off with a single. With one out, he reached third base when sophomore Dominic Fratantuono lined a single to rightfield. After junior first baseman Kurtis Voytell struck out, Wertz belted a booming triple to the deepest part of Schuerholz Park, driving in two runs and giving the Tigers a 3-0 advantage. Wertz was stranded on third base when Parker popped up.
While the Tigers were building their 3-0 lead, Trionfo was doing a great job shutting down the Patriots. After giving up a one-out single in the first inning to senior third baseman Brig Tison, he retired ten Patriots in a row. With two outs in the fourth, Helgeson was hit by a pitch. However, Trionfo came back and retired the next hitter before setting down the Patriots again in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tigers added three unearned runs without getting a base hit. Parker led off the inning and reached base when he was hit by a pitch. When Winter drew a walk, the Tigers had two runners on base.
A sacrifice bunt by Fisher moved both runners into scoring position with one out. Parker and Winter came around to score when Bennett hit a ground ball to Tison at third base. He made an error and the Tigers led, 5-0. Fitzgerald sacrificed Bennett to second base. Moments later, sophomore Brandon Gonnella reached base on a throwing error by junior second baseman Chris Cook as Bennett scored to make it a 6-0 lead.
After Helgeson led off the seventh with a homer, Trionfo finished the inning before senior righthander Tyler Austin came in to relieve him in the eighth inning. After Cook drew a walk and Tison singled, the Patriots had runners at the corners with one out. However, Austin got senior Dan Schafferman to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Austin nailed down the win by retiring the Patriots in order in the ninth inning.
Tison led the Patriots with two base hits as Tiger pitchers struck out nine batters.
Montefusco suffered his first loss of the season as he allowed six runs (three earned) in 5.2 innings on five hits and three walks. He struck out six but was hurt by the Patriot defense which made three errors behind him.
Wertz led the Tigers with two hits and two RBI’s.
The Tigers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, return to action on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. when they host George Mason University in the second game of their three-game Colonial Athletic Association weekend series.