FAIRFAX, Va. – Third baseman Zach Fisher led the Tigers with three hits and scored two runs as Towson University (18-16, 8-5) earned its fourth consecutive victory, a 10-6 win over George Mason University in the opening game of their three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at Spuhler Park on Friday afternoon.
Senior righthander Mike Volpe earned the victory for the Tigers as he upped his record to 5-2. Volpe pitched six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits. He walked only one hitter and had a career high nine strikeouts.
The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when third baseman Zach Fisher led off with a single to rightfield. Fisher reached third base when junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald reached base on a bunt single. A sacrifice fly by senior catcher Andrew Parker drove in the first run of the game. However, lefthander Jared Gaynor retired the next two hitters, stranding Fitzgerald on base.
The Patriots wasted no time tying the game in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, second baseman Derek Evans doubled to rightfield. Third baseman Blaise Fernandez tied the game with a single to right center. But, senior righthander Mike Volpe struck out the next two hitters, preserving the 1-1 tie.
In the third inning, the Tigers increased their lead to 2-1. Sophomore first baseman Brendan Butler opened the third inning with a single to left field. Junior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella tried to bunt Butler to third but he reached base on an error. A bunt single by Fisher enabled Butler to score, giving Towson a 2-1 lead. Once again, Gaynor pitched out of trouble when he retired the next two hitters.
The Tigers also squandered scoring opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings. They took a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning when they broke the game open. In a seven-run sixth, the Tigers sent 12 batters to the plate. Fratantuono opened the inning with a walk. When sophomore leftfielder Peter Bowles doubled to left, the Tigers had runners on second and third. Junior Kurt Wertz delivered an RBI single to right, upping the lead to 3-1. With runners on the corners and no outs, the Patriots brought their infield in. The strategy worked well when junior shortstop Hunter Bennett grounded into a fielder’s choice as Bowles was out at the plate. Butler also grounded out as Wertz was retired trying to score. After Butler stole second base, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with two outs.
Gonnella gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead when he lined a two-run single to left field. Fisher followed with a single to right to keep the rally alive. At that point, Chris Payne relieved Gaynor. Fisher stole second base and went to third on a throwing error as Gonnella put the Tigers ahead, 6-1. Fitzgerald followed with an RBI single to up the lead to 7-1. After Parker drew a walk, another walk to Fratantuono loaded the bases. Bowles gave the Tigers a 9-2 when he smacked a two-run single to centerfield. Wertz was retired on a fly ball to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Patriots staged a two-out rally. Designated hitter Anthony Montefusco started the rally with a single to right. Leftfielder Duncan Satherlie also singled, giving the Patriots two runners on base. Rightfielder Josh Leemhuis doubled to rightfield, driving in a run to cut the deficit to 9-2. However, Volpe struck out first baseman Mick Foley to end the uprising.
In the seventh inning, the Tigers threatened to add some runs when Bennett led off with a single before walks to Butler and Gonnella loaded the bases with no outs. However, righthander Tanner Love came in from the bullpen and stopped the rally. He got Fisher to ground into a double play as Bennett scored to make the lead 10-2. Then, he retired Fitzgerald on a fly ball to left, escaping the inning.