TOWSON, Md. – Senior catcher Andrew Parker had two hits, drove in four runs and tied a school record with five runs batted in as the Tigers (7-6, 1-2) came from behind to edge the University of Delaware (8-5, 2-1) and hand the Blue Hens a 19-14 Colonial Athletic Association loss in the final game of their three-game weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Sunday afternoon.
Delaware pitchers walked 15 batters and hit four more to help the Tigers win the series finale. The Tiger defense also converted four double plays.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Junior third baseman Mike Draper led off with a double down the leftfield line. Parker reached base when he was hit by a pitch. After an infield hit by junior Dominic Fratantuono, the Tigers had the bases loaded with no outs. Junior righthander Eric Buckland issued a four-pitch walk to junior Kurt Wertz, driving in Draper with the first run of the game.
However, Buckland regrouped and pitched out of the inning by striking out the next three hitters.
With one out in the second inning, junior shortstop Hunter Bennett drew a walk. After Draper grounded out, Parker blasted a long home run over the left field fence to give Towson a 3-0 lead. Moments later, Fratantuono smashed his second homer of the season over the rightfield fence, upping the advantage to 4-0. After a single by Wertz, Buckland retired Brendan Butler to end the inning.
Junior righthander Brandon Gonnella took the mound for the Tigers in the third inning with a 4-0 lead. But, it took Delaware very little time to overcome the lead. Sophomore shortstop Brock Niggebrugge led off with a single. When sophomore centerfielder Joe Giacchino followed with a triple to right centerfield, Delaware cut the lead to 4-1. A single by junior Cameron Travalini drove in Giacchino to make it a 4-2 game.
The Blue Hens proceeded to load the bases on a walk to junior first baseman Jimmy Yezzo and a single by senior rightfielder Nick Ferdinand. Then, senior second baseman D.J. Long lined a grand slam home run over the left field fence to put Delaware ahead, 6-4. It was Long’s third homer in two days against Towson.
The Blue Hens extended their lead to 7-4 in the fourth inning. Niggebrugge led off with a walk and went to second on a single by Giacchino. Travalini tried to bunt the runners over but Gonnella threw Giacchino out at second base. A single by Yezzo drove in a run and knocked Gonnella out of the game.
Sophomore righthander Nick Cioffi came in from the bullpen and got Ferdinand to hit a fly ball to Wertz in short centerfield. Wertz made the catch and threw out Travalini trying to score from third.
In the bottom of the fourth, Draper reached base on a double error as his ground ball went by third baseman Zach Lopes. A walk to Parker gave the Tigers two runners on base before Fratantuono’s walk loaded the bases. Junior righthander Dan Gatto came in to relieve Buckland. Wertz hit into a force play to score a run but a throwing error by Niggebrugge allowed another run to score, making it a 7-6 game. Butler was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base before a single by Peter Bowles loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly by Kurtis Voytell scored the tying run to make it 7-7 before junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald popped up to end the rally.
The Blue Hens responded by scoring four runs in the fifth inning. Long led off with a double to right. Lopes reached bases when he was hit by a pitch. After both runners were sacrificed into scoring position, sophomore catcher Ty Warrington singled in a run to put Delaware up, 8-7. A sacrifice fly by Niggebrugge drove in Lopes to up the lead to 9-7. Then, Giacchino lined a two-run homer to right, giving the Blue Hens an 11-7 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers came right back to score four runs and tie the game at 11-11. Bennett led off with a walk. With one out, Parker drew a walk. An RBI single by Fratantuono drove in a run to make it 11-8. A sacrifice fly by Wertz cut the deficit to 11-9. With two outs and two runners on base, Bowles hit a booming triple to right centerfield, driving in two runs to tie the score at 11-11.
After senior lefthander Mike Ryan retired Delaware without a run in the sixth, the Tigers rallied for five runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 16-11 lead. Fitzgerald led off with a single to left before Bennett was hit by a pitch. Draper laid down a bunt but Yezzo tried to retire the lead runner. His throw to third base was late and the Tigers had the bases loaded with no outs. When Parker was hit by a pitch, Fitzgerald scored the go-ahead run. Sophomore lefthander Chris Branigan came in to pitch and struck out the next two hitters but a walk to Butler forced in another run. A wild pitch allowed another run to score, making it 10-7. A walk to Bowles loaded the bases before a walk to Voytell forced in another run.
Trailing by 16-11, the Blue Hens rallied in the seventh to cut their deficit to 16-14. Sophomore designated hitter Tyler Powell led off with a single before Warrington hit into a double play. Niggebrugge and Giacchino each reached base when they were hit by a pitch before Travalini’s two-run double cut the lead to 16-13. An RBI single by Yezzo pulled Delaware to within 16-14 before Ryan pitched out of the inning by getting Ferdinand to ground out.
With the lead cut to 16-14, Towson added three more runs in the seventh. Draper led off with a walk before Parker doubled to centerfield, making it a 17-14 lead. Walks to Fratantuono and Wertz loaded the bases. An RBI single by Butler drove in a run to make it an 18-14 lead. With the bases loaded and two outs, Ferdinand made a diving catch on a fly ball to right by Fitzgerald.
Bennett added an insurance run in the eighth inning when he hit the first home run of career down the left field line.
In the ninth inning, Warrington led off with a single but Niggebrugge lined into a double play. Ryan struck out Giacchino to end the game.
Ryan earned his fourth win of the season by pitching four innings. He allowed three runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Blue Hens outhit the Tigers, 16-13. Giacchino and Travalini had three hits each and had three RBI’s each. Long had two hits and drove in four runs.
Fratantuono led Towson with three hits and two RBI’s while Wertz drove in three runs. Bowles had two hits and two RBI’s.
The Tigers, who snapped a four-game losing streak, return to action on Tuesday when they host George Washington at 3:00 p.m.