WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Junior righthander Nick Cioffi pitched 5.1 innings of five-hit ball to lead the Tigers (2-0) to an 8-3 victory over Marshall University (1-1) in the second round of the Wake Forest University Tournament at Wake Forest Baseball Park on Sunday afternoon.
Cioffi earned his first win of the season by holding Marshall to one run on five hits. He didn’t walk any batters and he struck out two. Senior righthander Greg Baruka earned a save by allowing two runs on three hits. He didn’t issue any walks and had two strikeouts.
By contrast, six Marshall pitchers walked 11 batters, helping the Tigers to their second win in a row.
Towson took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when senior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald singled before senior Brandon Gonnella drew a walk. A single by senior Kurt Wertz loaded the bases with one out. A bases-loaded walk to senior Dominic Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Gonnella drew his second walk. Wertz doubled to left center, sending to Gonnella to third base. With one out, Fratantuono grounded out to second base as Gonnella scored the Tigers’ second run.
Marshall scored its first run of the game in the third inning. Sergio Leon and Corey Bird hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. After both runners were sacrificed to second and third, Leon scored when Aaron Bossi grounded out to second base. Cioffi pitched out of the jam by retiring Andrew Dundon on a line drive to first base.
In the fifth inning, the Tigers scored another run on a bases-loaded walk. Singles by Fitzgerald and Gonnella started the rally. With two outs, a walk to Fratantuono loaded the bases. Junior first baseman Brendan Butler drove in a run when he received a bases-loaded walk.
Leading by 3-1 in the seventh inning, the Tigers extended their lead to 4-1 with a two-out rally. A double by Fratantuono and a triple by Butler upped Towson’s lead to 4-1.
Marshall cut its deficit to 4-3 in the seventh. But Baruka stranded the tying run at second base when he struck out Dundon.
The Tigers broke the game open in the eighth inning. Towson loaded the bases when Zach Fisher, Fitzgerald and Gonnella walked to load the bases. A walk to Wertz upped the Tigers’ lead to 5-3. After a sacrifice fly by Peter Bowles drove in Towson’s sixth run, Gonnella scored on a wild pitch to put Towson ahead, 7-3.
A sacrifice fly Fitzgerald in the ninth inning gave Towson an 8-3 advantage. Baruka nailed down the win by retiring the final eight batters he faced.
Fisher, Fitzgerald and Wertz led the Tigers with two hits each. Gonnella, who led the Tigers to a season-opening win over Wake Forest on Saturday, had one hit and drew three walks. He also scored three runs.
Towson closes out its play in the tournament on Monday when the Tigers play Georgetown at 10 a.m.