LAKE CHARLES, La. – Junior Dominic Fratantuono had two hits and drove in three runs, including the eventual game-winner in the top of the 15th inning, as Towson University (2-0) outlasted McNeese State (0-2) in 15 innings, handing the Cowboys a 10-9 loss at Cowboy Park on Saturday evening.
The game was the second-longest contest in school history, topped by an 18-inning loss to Old Dominion in 2006. The game lasted five hours and featured 36 hits, eight errors and 30 runners left on base.
With the victory, the Tigers improved to 2-0 on the season, marking the first time that Towson opened its season with back-to-back wins
In the top of the 15th inning, the Tigers pushed across a run to end the marathon. Third baseman Zach Fisher led off the inning with a single to right centerfield. Sophomore Brendan Butler followed with a single to right centerfield as Fisher reached third base. Fratantuono drove in Fisher with the go-ahead run when he lined a sacrifice fly to right, giving Towson a 10-9 lead.
In the bottom of the 15th inning, senior lefthander Mike Ryan nailed down the victory when he retired the side for the third inning in a row.
The Tigers appeared to have won the game in the 13th when they scored twice to a take a 9-7 advantage. Sophomore centerfielder Brandon Gonnella reached base on an error to lead off the inning. Fisher followed with a walk. When Butler doubled to left field, Gonnella scored with the go-ahead run but Fisher was thrown out at the plate. Fratantuono upped the lead to 9-7 when he singled to centerfield, scoring Butler.
In the bottom of the 13th inning, the Cowboys came back to tie the game. Tyler Klouser led off the inning with a double. Shortstop Hans Ask drove in a run when he reached base on an infield single. Andrew Guilliotte and Matt Williams followed with back-to-back singles to score Ask with the tying run.
At that point, Coach Mike Gottlieb went to the bullpen and summoned Ryan to replace sophomore righthander Greg Baruka. Ryan struck out two of the three hitters he faced, sending the game to the 14th inning.
The Tigers, who won the series opener on Friday night by a 12-5 margin, took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. With one out, Fisher singled and stole second base. An RBI double by Butler gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage. Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead when he hit a run-scoring single to centerfield. Junior Kurt Wertz added to the lead with a solo home run in the second inning.
In the bottom of the second, McNeese State erupted for four runs on five hits to take a 4-3 lead. Skyler Barrentine gave the Cowboys a lead with his RBI double to cap off the rally.
The Cowboys upped their lead to 5-3 in the third inning when Jackson Gooch led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chase Marion.
The Tigers trimmed their deficit to 5-4 in the fourth inning when senior catcher Andrew Parker (right) led off with a double and scored when second baseman Pat Fitzgerald reached on an infield error.
In the fifth inning, Parker blasted a three-run homer over the left field fence, giving Towson a 7-5 advantage.
The Cowboys added a run in the fifth inning when Barrentine and Gooch hit back-to-back singles and Barrentine scored on an infield ground ball hit by Taylor Drake.
Towson protected its 7-6 lead until the bottom of the eighth when McNeese State scored the tying run. Phillip LeBeau led off with a pinch hit single and went to second base on a single by Marion. After Matt Henry grounded out to third, both runners moved up a base. When Klouser drew a walk, the Cowboys had the bases loaded. A pinch-hit single by Michael Sullivan tied the game.
However, sophomore righthander Mike Cioffi escaped the jam by getting Guillotte to ground into a double play.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cowboys made a bid to win the game. With one out, Ballentine and Gooch hit singles to put runners at first and third base. With LeBeau at bat, the Cowboys tried a squeeze play. When LeBeau missed the pitch, Parker retired Ballentine trying to score. LeBeau grounded out to end the threat.
McNeese State outhit the Tigers by a 20-16 margin as Gooch had four hits while Barrentine added three hits.
Butler led the Tigers with three hits while Parker had two hits and drove in three runs.
Ryan picked up the win, the third victory of his career. He pitched three scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two walks and four strikeouts.
Towson and McNeese State will play the final game of their three-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.