NEWARK, Del. – Junior righthander Michael Trionfo shut out Delaware (10-13, 4-4) on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work to earn his fourth victory of the season as the Tigers (11-10, 5-3) won their fifth game in a row, a 6-1 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Blue Hens in the first game of a CAA doubleheader at Bob Hannah Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Delaware came back to win the second game, 2-1. That loss ended the Tigers' five-game winning streak.
Trionfo, who also pitched the Tigers to a 6-1 win over George Mason last Friday, scattered seven hits and walked three Blue Hens. Although he didn’t strike out anyone, he induced Delaware hitters to hit into a pair of double plays.
In his last two starts, Trionfo has a 2-0 record with a 0.66 E.R.A.
Trionfo pitched out of a jam in the first inning with the help of the Tigers’ infield. Centerfielder Cameron Tranlini led off the bottom of the first with a double to right field. When second baseman D.J. Long was retired on a fly ball to right field, Tranlini moved to third base. A walk to designated hitter Chris Branigan gave the Blue Hens runners on first and third base. But, Trionfo got first baseman Jimmy Yezzo to hit a ground ball to shortstop that sophomore Hunter Bennett turned into a double play.
In the second inning, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead. Sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz led off with a single. He moved into scoring position when junior catcher Andrew Parker bunted him over. With two outs, senior centerfielder Ben Winter singled to centerfield, driving in Wertz as Winter reached second base on the throw. Bennett followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Winter to make it a 2-0 lead.However, senior righthander Eric Young of Delaware struck out sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald, ending the inning.
In the second inning, the Tigers’ infield helped out Trionfo again. Rightfielder Casey Powell and first baseman Nick Ferdinand opened the inning with back-to-back singles. But, Trionfo got third baseman Ryan Hartley to ground into another double play that was started by Tiger third baseman Zach Fisher. Trionfo escaped the inning when shortstop Brock Niggeburge grounded out to first base.
The Blue Hens also threatened in the third inning with runners at first and third and two outs. However, Trionfo retired Yezzo on a fly ball to left, ending the threat.
Wertz gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead when he led off the fourth inning with a home run to left field, his first homer of the season.
With the Tigers leading 3-0 in the fourth inning, Trionfo and Young settled into a pitcher’s duel.
The Blue Hens had two runners on base in the fifth inning but Branigan grounded out to end the rally. Through six innings, Delaware had six hits and left seven runners on base.
With two outs in the seventh inning, Travalini singled and Trionfo was relieved by senior righthander Tyler Austin. After walking Long, Austin retired Branigan on a ground ball to second base, preserving the 3-0 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, a one-out single by freshman first baseman Brendan Butler knocked Young out of the game. He was relieved by Brandon Hinkle. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt by Hinkle enabled Butler to reach third base. Wertz followed with a single to left, upping the lead to 4-0. Junior Eric Buckland was summoned from the bullpen to relieve Hinkle and he walked. That brought senior lefthander Jeff Murray in from the bullpen to pitch. After Murray threw a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position, Fisher was walked intentionally.
Winter’s second RBI single of the game drove in Wertz to make it a 5-0 lead. But, Murray struck out Bennett and retired Fitzgerald on a ground ball to end the inning.
The Tigers added another run in the ninth inning when Dominic Fratantuono (right) singled and scored on a long double by Butler.
Delaware avoided the shutout when the Blue Hens scored with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Long was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on a double by Branigan. Austin retired the final batter to nail down the win. It was his first save of the year.
In the nightcap, senior righthander Corey Crispell of Delaware outdueled freshman righthander Taylor Clarke of the Tigers.
Clarke took a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the fifth inning in a scoreless game. But, he issued a leadoff walk to Powell. Ferdinand followed with a single to left field. A single to left by Hartley allowed Powell to score the first run of the game. When Wertz made an error on the play, Ferdinand reached third base while Hartley arrived at second base. The Blue Hens took a 2-0 lead when shortstop Brock Niggeburge hit a sacrifice fly to left, driving in Ferdinand with an unearned run. But, Clarke regrouped and retired catcher Ty Warrington on a fly ball to left and Long on a popup to second base.
Fitzgerald led off the sixth inning by reaching base on catcher’s interference. With one out, Fratantuono doubled to centerfield as Fitzgerald reached third base. Fitzgerald scored the Tigers’ first run when Butler grounded out to third base. But, Crispell struck out Wertz to end the threat and protect the Blue Hens’ 2-1 lead.
After the sixth inning, Crispell retired the Tigers without much trouble and maintained his 2-1 lead into the ninth inning when he was relieved by senior righthander Devon Pearson. Wertz led off the ninth by grounding out. But, the Tigers put the go-ahead runners on base when Winter was hit by a pitch and Parker drew a walk. However, Pearson nailed down the win by striking out pinch hitter Peter Bowles and retiring Bennett on a ground ball to second base.
Crispell held the Tigers to one unearned run on four hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out seven. He was only slightly better than Clarke. Clarke pitched the first complete game of his career, allowing one earned run on five hits. He walked one and struck out five.
Fratantuono had two of the Tigers’ four hits while Hartley had two hits for Delaware.
In the doubleheader, Fratantuono went four-for-seven while Wertz had three hits and drove in two runs. Butler also had three hits with two RBI's.
Tiger pitching held the Blue Hens to two earned runs on 15 hits in the twinbill.
Towson and Delaware play the series finale on Saturday at 10 a.m. due to anticipated weather problems.