TOWSON, Md. - Junior righthander Michael Trionfo earned his ninth victory of the season as he held James Madison University (16-33-2, 10-18) to a pair of runs over eight innings while leading the Tigers (24-29, 13-15) to an 8-3 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Dukes in the opening game of their three-game CAA weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Thursday afternoon.
the victory, Towson improved its CAA Tournament hopes. The Tigers entered
Thursday’s game tied for sixth place in the CAA with Georgia State. Georgia
State lost to Old Dominion on Thursday night, falling one game behind the Tigers.
Trionfo, who is now 9-3 on the season, tied the Towson single season record with his ninth victory. The record was set by Jay Eck in 1988 and matched by Mike Vota in 1995.
In his longest outing of the season, Trionfo surrendered two runs on eight hits in eight innings against the Dukes. He issued two walks and struck out five.
Trionfo left the game with an 8-2 lead. Freshman righthander Nick Cioffi relieved him in the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff home run to junior catcher Bradley Shaban. After junior leftfielder Colby Roberts doubled, Cioffi was relieved by senior righthander Tyler Austin.
Making his 29th appearance of the season, Austin flirted with danger before nailing down the victory. Austin struck out the first batter he faced, senior rightfielder Ian Haynes. After issuing a walk to junior first baseman Johnny Bladel, he fanned junior second baseman Casey Goss for the second out. However, senior designated hitter Evan Scott drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Austin finished off the game by retiring sophomore third baseman Ty McFarland on a ground ball back to the mound.
The Dukes actually took a 1-0 lead in the game. Scott gave JMU a 1-0 lead when he belted a solo home run over the left field fence with two outs in the first inning. It was his sixth home run of the year.
The Tigers responded with their most productive first inning of the season as they batted around, scoring four runs to take a 4-1 lead. Sophomore designated hitter Brandon Gonnella (right) led off with a single to rightfield. On a hit-and-run play, junior third baseman Zach Fisher singled to left centerfield as Gonnella reached third base. When sophomore rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono was hit by a pitch, the Tigers had the bases loaded with no outs.
Freshman first baseman Brendan Butler lined a single to left, scoring Gonnella with the tying run. The next hitter, sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz hit a ground ball back to the mound where freshman righthander Patrick Toohers fielded it. Toohers threw home to try and get a force play at the plate but his throw was wild as Fisher scored and the bases were still loaded. On the next pitch, junior catcher Andrew Parker made a very strong bid for a grand slam home run. However, junior centerfielder Cole McInturff went back to the fence and leaped up to make the catch. Fratantuono scored on the sacrifice fly to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage. With runners on first and third and one out, senior centerfielder Ben Winter bunted for a hit as Butler scored to put Towson ahead, 4-1. Toohers escaped the inning without any more damage by retiring the next two hitters.
In the third inning, the Tigers added another run. Butler led off with a walk and went to second base on a wild pitch. When Wertz lined a double down the rightfield line, Butler scored to increase Towson’s advantage to 5-1. Sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald helped the Tigers extend their lead to 6-1 in the fourth inning. He led off with a double to left centerfield and scored on an RBI single by Gonnella.
After allowing the first inning homer to Scott, Trionfo pitched his way out of several jams and took a 6-1 lead into the sixth inning. McFarland led off the sixth with a double to left centerfield. McInturff followed with a double down the leftfield line, driving in McFarland to cut the lead to 6-2. With the help of his defense, Trionfo escaped the jam. Freshman shortstop Chad Carroll hit a ground ball to sophomore shortstop Hunter Bennett, who alertly threw to third base where Fisher tagged out McInturff. Then, Parker threw out Carroll, who was trying to steal third base. When Shaban popped up, the inning was over and Towson owned a 6-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Tigers added a pair of insurance runs. Butler led off with a walk. Then, Wertz drilled his fourth home run of the season down the rightfield line, upping the lead to 8-2.
Wertz, who had been slumping in recent weeks, led the Tigers’ 13-hit attack by going three-for-four with four runs batted in. He also scored a run. Gonnella also had three hits as he went three-for-five with one RBI. Fisher and Fitzgerald also had a pair of hits while Butler reached base three times and scored three runs.
McFarland led JMU with two hits, both doubles. McInturff also had a pair of hits while Shaban went two-for-three.
Towson, which had lost four games in a row to the Dukes, hosts James Madison in the second game of the series on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.