ELON, N.C. – Sophomore righthander Brandon Gonnella pitched eight shutout innings to lead Towson University (18-17) to a 9-0 victory over Elon University (20-17) as the Tigers evened their three-game weekend series at Lathan Park on Saturday evening.
In the longest outing of his career, Gonnella blanked the Phoenix on five hits over eight innings. He walked two and struck out three. Junior righthander Mike Volpe relieved him in the ninth and retired the side.
One night after scoring 17 runs against the Tigers, Elon was held to six hits in the second game of the series. The Phoenix only had two runners on base in the same inning once.
Both Gonnella and junior righthander Kyle Webb of Elon pitched well in the early innings, blanking the opposition through three innings. In the top of the fourth, the Tigers took advantage of Elon defensive problems to take a 3-0 lead. Freshman first baseman Brendan Butler led off with a single up the middle. Junior catcher Andrew Parker reached base on an error by first baseman Ryan Kinsella. When freshman Peter Bowles bunted, he reached base on a hit and went to second on a throwing error by Webb while Butler scored the first run of the game.
Junior third baseman Zach Fisher grounded out to second base as Parker scored for a 2-0 lead. When sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz reached base on the third error of the inning by Elon, Bowles scored to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage. However, Webb retired the next two hitters to escape the inning.
Gonnella protected the 3-0 lead until the seventh inning when the Tigers added another run. Sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett drew a one-out walk. With two outs, he stole second base. Sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald singled to right field, driving in Bennett to make it a 4-0 lead.
In the eighth inning, Bowles led off with a single up the middle and Fisher reached on a bunt single. Wertz gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead when he singled to left, driving in Bowles. After Bennett sacrificed the runners into scoring position, senior centerfielder Ben Winter drew a walk, loading the bases. Fitzgerald’s single to right drove in Fisher, giving the Tigers a 6-0 advantage. Then, Fratantuono reached base on an error as Wertz scored. A sacrifice fly by Butler put the Tigers ahead, 8-0. Parker grounded out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Elon put together its best threat of the game. With two outs, shortstop Chris Bresnahan singled to centerfield. Then, sophomore second baseman Sebastian Gomez followed with a single to right. But, Gonnella preserved the shutout by getting catcher Alex Swim to ground out to shortstop.
In the top of the ninth, Bowles walked to lead off the inning. After he reached second base on a passed ball, Fisher’s single to right advanced him to third base. When Wertz hit into a force play, Bowles scored to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead.
Volpe came on to pitch the ninth inning for the Tigers. With one out, rightfielder Eric Serra doubled to right center. When leftfielder Jake Luce grounded out to first base, Serra moved to third. Appearing as a pinch hitter, Casey Jones drew a walk. Then, Volpe struck out designated hitter Tyler McVicar, ending the game.
The Tigers, who took advantage of four errors by Elon, outhit the Phoenix by a 10-6 margin.
Bowles continued his hot hitting by going three-for-three with three runs scored. Fitzgerald added two hits and drove in a pair of runs while Fisher also contributed a pair of hits.
Serra had two of Elon’s six hits.
Towson and Elon will play the final game of their series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.