HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Third baseman Zach Fisher had four base hits to lead a 15-hit outburst by the Tigers (10-7, 3-2) as they rallied for a 15-3 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Hofstra University (4-13, 0-5) at University Field on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers also won the series opener on Friday by a 14-4 margin.
Trailing by 3-2 entering the eighth inning, the Tigers erupted for seven runs in the frame to take a 9-3 lead. In the ninth inning, Towson broke the game wide open when the Tigers added six more runs.
Sophomore first baseman Brendan Butler opened the eighth inning when he was hit by a pitch. When junior leftfielder Kurt Wertz reached on an error, the Tigers had two runners on base with no outs. With one out, junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead when he doubled to left field. The Tigers loaded the bases on a walk to junior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella and when Fisher was hit by a pitch. Junior Dominic Fratantuono followed with a single to right, driving in two more runs to make it a 6-3 lead. After an intentional walk to senior catcher Andrew Parker, righthander Andrew Barbarino threw a wild pitch as Fisher scored. Moments later, sophomore rightfielder Peter Bowles singled to right, driving in another run to make it 8-3. Parker scored the seventh run of the inning when Barbarino threw another wild pitch.
Fitzgerald led off the ninth inning with a base hit and scored on an RBI double by Gonnella. Fisher followed with an RBI single to make the score 11-3. After Fratantuono was retired on a fly ball to left, Parker reached base when he was hit by a pitch. Later in the inning, Fisher scored on a wild pitch to up the lead to 12-3. Back-to-back walks to Bowles and Butler loaded the bases again. With two outs, Parker scored on a wild pitch for a 13-3 advantage. After pinch hitter Mike Draper was hit by a pitch, Bowles scored on another wild pitch. Another wild pitch enabled Butler to score, giving Towson a 15-3 lead. After Fitzgerald drew a walk, Gonnella grounded out to end the inning.
Junior righthander Greg Baruka pitched the bottom of the ninth inning and nailed down the win.
The game actually started as a pitcher’s duel between sophomore righthander Paul Beers of Towson and lefthander Joe Burg of Hofstra.
Hofstra took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Catcher Robbie Canfiero led off with a double to rightfield. Centerfielder T.J. Ehrsam drove home the first run of the game with an RBI single to right. He advanced to second base on an error by rightfielder Peter Bowles. With one out, third baseman Kevin Brantley singled to left field. But, Beers got some help from his defense as Wertz threw out Ehrsam trying to score. But, Beers wasn’t out of trouble just yet. After issuing a walk to senior first baseman Jared Hammer, Beers struck out rightfielder Chris Nardo to end the rally.
After threatening several times in the first four innings, the Tigers finally broke through in the fifth. With one out, Fitzgerald drew a walk. Gonnella tied the game when he doubled to left field, scoring Fitzgerald. Fisher followed with a single to short left, putting runners at first and third. Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead when he doubled to right center. An intentional walk to Parker loaded the bases for Bowles. However Burg struck out Bowles and retired Butler on a fly ball, ending the rally.
The Pride wasted no time getting the lead back. Leftfielder Kenny Jackson started the rally with a one-out single. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on a single by Hammer. A single by Nardo gave the Pride runners on first and third. When second baseman Austin Nyman doubled, Hammer scored to give Hofstra a 3-2 advantage. Beers finally pitched out of the inning when he struck out designated hitter Brent Hall.
In the sixth inning, the Tigers made a strong bid to tie the game. Wertz led off with a double and went to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Bennett. However, Wertz was thrown out at the plate trying to score on an infield ground ball.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Beers pitched six innings and allowed three runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Burg also pitched six innings. He allowed two runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
However, the Tigers rallied against six Hofstra relief pitchers. In three innings, the Tigers scored 13 runs on only seven hits. But, the Tigers also took advantage of six walks, four hit batters and seven wild pitches.
Fisher led the Tigers with four hits and scored two runs. Gonnella had three hits and scored three runs while Fratantuono had two hits and three RBI’s.
Sophomore righthander Nick Cioffi earned the win in relief for Towson. He pitched two innings and allowed no runs on one hit with three strikeouts.
The Tigers, who have won four of their last five games, will try to complete the series sweep on Sunday when they face Hofstra at 1:00 p.m.