DOVER, Del. – Junior lefthander Mike Ryan and eight relief pitchers combined to throw a five-hitter as the Tigers (10-9) won their fourth game in a row, an 8-2 non-conference victory over Delaware State University (12-9-1) at Soldier Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Ryan, who earned his first win of the season and the second victory of his career, pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and didn’t walk anyone. He struck out three batters.
In the first inning, the Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Senior centerfielder Ben Winter led off the game by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch. After Winter reached second base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Brandon Gonnella, he scored the first run of the game on a single to centerfield by freshman third baseman Brendan Butler. After Butler stole second base, the Tigers had another run in scoring position. However, sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz was called out on strikes, ending the threat.
In the second inning, the Tigers rallied with two outs. Sophomore second baseman Mike Draper started the rally with a single through the right side. A single by freshman shortstop Ryne Willard gave the Tigers a pair of base runners before Winter was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Gonnella drove in a pair of runs with a single to centerfield. However, he was thrown out at second base trying to stretch his single into a two-base hit, ending the inning.
The Tigers threatened to add to their lead in third and fourth innings but couldn’t come up with a big hit. In the fourth inning, Draper and Willard opened the inning with back-to-back singles. When they pulled off a double steal, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with one out. However, freshman righthander Bobby Brown pitched out of the jam by striking out Gonnella and retiring sophomore Dominic Fratantuono on a fly ball to left.
After Ryan pitched three scoreless innings for the Tigers, he left the game with a 3-0 lead. Freshman Nick Cioffi relieved him in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Hornets used three walks, two errors and a single to get back into the game. Junior catcher Peter Broehl opened the inning by drawing a walk. He advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore third baseman D.J. Miller. With a runner on second base and one out, senior centerfielder Troy Drummond singled to centerfield as Broehl reach third base. However, a throwing error by Winter allowed Broehl to score, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 3-1. When senior shortstop Scott Davis reached base on an error by Willard, the Hornets had runners on first and third base.
A walk to sophomore leftfielder Cameron Cecil loaded the bases and knocked Cioffi out of the game. He was replaced by freshman righthander Paul Beers.
However, Beers issued a walk to the first batter he faced, Ryan Haas, forcing in a run to make it a 3-2 game. But, Beers protected the 3-2 lead by striking out designated hitter Eddie Sordondo and retiring pinch hitter Aaron Nardone on a fly ball to centerfield.
The Tigers maintained their 3-2 into the seventh inning when they took advantage of some defensive lapses by the Hornets to extend their lead. With one out, freshman rightfielder Peter Bowles drew a walk. After he stole second base, Fratantuono also drew a walk. At that point, Brown was relieved by sophomore righthander Tommy Dill. When he walked Butler, the first batter he faced, the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out.
Wertz followed with a ground ball to Davis, the Hornets’ shortstop. When he made an error, two runs scored to give the Tigers a 5-2 advantage. On the next pitch, junior first baseman Kurtis Voytell hit a ground ball to Miller at third base. When he made an error, Butler scored the third run of the inning. A walk to junior catcher Andrew Parker loaded the bases again. Sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald hit a sacrifice fly to Cecil, the leftfielder, driving in another run. But a throwing error by Cecil allowed Voytell and Parker to advance a base. The inning finally came to an end when Willard was retired on a fly ball to rightfield. The Tigers had scored four runs on no hits, four walks and three errors as they increased their lead to 7-2.
The Tigers extended their lead to 8-2 in the eighth inning. After walks to Bowles and Butler, Wertz picked up a run batted in when he singled to centerfield. An RBI double by freshman Richie Blosser in the ninth inning gave the Tigers a 9-2 advantage.
The nine pitchers used by the Tigers combined to allow no earned runs on five hits. They walked four batters and struck out eight. Senior righthander Tyler Austin also pitched two scoreless innings.
The Tigers outhit the Hornets by a 12-5 margin. Willard led the Tigers with three hits while Wertz went two-for-five with two RBI’s. Butler also had a pair of hits and drove in a run. He also drew a pair of walks.
The Tigers, who are tied for second place in the Colonial Athletic Association, return to CAA action this weekend when they visit the University of Delaware for a three-game series.