WILMINGTON, N.C. – Sophomore lefthander Mat Bats held Towson University (21-26, 11-12) to one run and six hits over six innings, leading Colonial Athletic Association-leading UNC Wilmington (28-18, 18-5) to an 11-2 CAA victory over the Tigers in the second game of their three-game weekend series at Brooks Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Seahawks, who erupted for 20 base hits in the victory, evened the series at one win each. Towson edged the Seahawks in the series opener, 3-1. UNCW has won 12 of its last 15 games.
Bats, who did not walk anyone and struck out two, upped his record to 5-4. After pitching six innings, he turned the game over to the UNCW bullpen.
Freshman first baseman Brendan Butler had a big day for the Tigers. He went three-for-three with a sacrifice fly and one run batted in. He was also hit by a pitch for the 18th time this season.
The Seahawks took an early lead when junior rightfielder Tyler Molinaro and senior centerfielder Andrew Cain hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, Molinaro launched his 11th home run of the season down the rightfield line. When Cain blasted his sixth homer of the season down the left field line, the Seahawks owned a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers had a chance to tie the score in the second inning, thanks to a pair of errors by senior third baseman Matt Campbell. With runners on second and third with two outs, junior Andrew Parker was thrown out at home plate trying to score on a pitch that got away from catcher Drew Farber. Farber threw to Bats at home plate, retiring Parker.
UNC Wilmington increased its lead to 5-0 in the second inning. With one out, senior shortstop Jake Koenig singled to left centerfield. A double by freshman designated hitter Corey Dick down the right field line drove in Koenig for a 3-0 advantage. After second baseman Michael Bass sacrificed, Dick reached third base. After Dick scored on a wild pitch, Campbell kept the rally going with a single to centerfield. A double to centerfield by Molinaro scored Campbell, giving the Seahawks a 5-0 lead. Sophomore lefthander Kyle Paul ended the rally by getting Cain to ground out.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Seahawks threatened to break the game wide open. Dick led off with a double. With one out, Campbell singled to left, upping the lead to 6-0. After Molinaro grounded out, Cain singled and first baseman Hunter Ridge walked to load the bases. But, Paul escaped the inning by getting senior leftfielder Thomas Pope to fly out.
With two outs in the fifth inning, the Tigers staged a threat. Sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett and Butler hit back-to-back singles. However, Bats retired sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald on a ground ball back to the mound, ending the rally.
In the bottom of the fifth, UNC Wilmington added another run. With one out, Koenig singled to left. After reaching second base on a wild pitch, Koenig reached third when Dick grounded out. An RBI single by Bass upped the lead 7-0. After Campbell also singled, Paul retired Molinaro on a ground ball to first base, ending threat.
Paul, who left the game after the fifth inning, allowed seven runs on 13 hits with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Tigers ended the shutout in the sixth inning when they scored an unearned run. Sophomore centerfielder Dominic Fratantuono led off the frame with a double to left field. With one out, sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz hit a fly ball to Cain, the centerfielder. When Cain dropped the fly ball for an error, Fratantuono scored to cut the deficit to 7-1. Bats ended the threat by retiring the next two hitters on fly balls.
Freshman righthander Nick Cioffi came out of the bullpen and shut out the Seahawks in the sixth inning. In the seventh, sophomore righthander William Prince relieved Bats and set the Tigers down in order.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Seahawks rallied to score four runs on five hits to break the game open. Facing junior righthander Sean Bertrand, Koenig and Dick led off with back-to-back singles. An RBI single by Bass gave UNCW an 8-1 advantage. With one out, Molinaro doubled down the left field line, scoring Dick to make it a 9-1 contest. A sacrifice fly by Cain upped the lead to 10-1. Ridge capped off the rally with an RBI double to make it an 11-1 advantage. Bertrand struck out Pope to end the inning.
The Tigers added another unearned run in the ninth inning. Sophomore third baseman Mike Draper led off with a single and advanced to second base on a passed ball. With one out, freshman Ryne Willard added another single, putting runners at first and third base. A sacrifice fly by Butler enabled to drive in Draper, making it an 11-2 game. However, Christian McDonald retired pinch hitter Brandon Gonnella on a ground ball to shortstop, ending the game.
Bats, Prince and McDonald combined to hold the Tigers to a pair of unearned runs on eight hits. They teamed up to strike out and five and did not walk any batters.
Butler led the Tigers by going three-for-three with one RBI. When he was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, he set a Towson single season record by getting hit by a pitch 18 times.
Dick led the Seahawks with four hits in five at bats. He scored three runs and had one RBI. Campbell added three hits and drove in a run.
Molinaro also had a big day for UNCW. He had three hits, including two doubles and a home run. He also scored twice and drove in three runs.
Towson and UNCW close out their three-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon with a single game at 2:00 p.m.