DURHAM, N.C. - Junior shortstop Hunter Bennett had three hits and drove in two runs as Towson University (5-2) pounded out 14 hits en route to a 9-3 victory over Duke University (4-4) at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Friday evening in the opening game of their three-game series.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as they scored a run with two outs. Sophomore Brendan Butler doubled with two outs. After junior Kurt Wertz drew a walk, junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald singled to rightfield, scoring Butler with the first run of the game. After issuing a walk to Bennett, Trent Swart pitched out of the jam by striking out junior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella.
For the Tigers, senior righthander Mike Volpe sailed through the first three innings, retiring all nine batters he faced.
However, the Blue Devils rallied in the bottom of the fourth. Andy Perez led off with a single to centerfield before Jeff Kremer drew a walk. A bunt single by catcher Mike Rosenfeld loaded the bases with no outs.
Third baseman Jordan Betts gave Duke a 2-1 lead when lined a two-run single to rightfield. The rally continued when first baseman Chris Marconcini walked to load the bases.
But, Volpe pitched out of the jam as he struck out Anthony D’Alessandro for the first out. Then, he got Matt Berezo to hit a bouncer back to the mound that he turned into a double play.
“That may have been the biggest play of the game,” said Coach Mike Gottlieb. “Duke was on its way to a big inning.”
The Blue Devils protected their 2-1 lead until the sixth inning. Wertz led off the inning by drawing a walk. A walk to Fitzgerald and a bunt single by Bennett loaded the bases with no outs. A bases-loaded walk to Gonnella tied the game at 2-2. The Blue Devils looked like they might escape with no further damage when third baseman Zach Fisher grounded into a double play while Fitzgerald scored the go-ahead run. A double to right center by senior catcher Andrew Parker scored another run, giving Towson a 4-2 advantage. Junior rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono added to the lead when he singled home Parker for a 5-2 lead. Senior Kurtis Voytell struck out to end the inning.
Butler led off the seventh inning with a single and scored on an RBI triple to give the Tigers a 6-2 advantage. With one out, an RBI single by Bennett put the Tigers ahead, 7-2.
After giving up a leadoff double in the seventh inning, Volpe was relieved by sophomore righthander Nick Cioffi. Cioffi pitched two shutout innings.
The Tigers added two more runs in the ninth inning when Bennett and Fisher added RBI singles.
The Blue Devils add an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth inning before Fitzgerald turned in a flashy double play on a ground ball up the middle by Perez. He made a behind-the-back toss to Bennett for the first out before Bennett’s relay throw ended the game.
Volpe earned the win to up his record to 2-0 on the season. He allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings of work.
Parker, Butler and Fitzgerald each had two hits while Wertz drew four walks and scored two runs.
Towson and Duke play the second game of their three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m.