ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Junior righthander Chris Acker shut out Monmouth University (1-6) for seven innings and allowed only four hits, leading the Tigers (7-3) to a 3-0 victory over the Hawks in the opening round of the Navy Invitational at Max Bishop Stadium on Friday.
The win over Monmouth improved Towson’s record to 7-3, the best start for the program since Towson won nine of its first 11 games in 2001.
Acker, who improved to 2-0 on the season, has thrown 13.1 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three starts. He struck out three batters and didn’t issue any walks.
He pitched out of two jams in the early innings. In a scoreless game in the third inning, left fielder Joe Bamford led off with a triple to right centerfield, giving the Hawks a runner on third with no outs. However, Acker escaped the jam, retiring the next three hitters on ground balls to the infield.
In the fourth inning, second baseman Jake Gronsky led off with a double down the left field line. Once again, Acker escaped. He retired Dan Shea on a fly ball to centerfield and got Danny Avella to ground out to first base. With two outs and a runner on third, Craig Sweeney was retired on a fly ball to left field.
Over his final three innings of work, Acker allowed only one base hit.
“Chris threw a lot of strikes, especially with his curve ball,” said Coach Mike Gottlieb. “It was clearly his best game of the season. We also played our best defensive game of the year.”
Andrew McGee of Monmouth matched Acker’s pitching through the first five innings, blanking the Tigers on four hits.
However, the Tigers broke through in the sixth inning. With one out, senior Pat Fitzgerald drew a walk. Gonnella followed with a single through the right side as Fitzgerald reached second base. After senior Kurt Wertz struck out, junior Peter Bowles, the Tigers’ hottest hitter, doubled down the left line, driving in both runners and giving Towson a 2-0 lead. Senior Dominic Fratantuono followed with a single to centerfield, scoring Bowles with the third run of the inning. Fratantuono was thrown out trying to steal second base, ending the rally.
Walther came on to pitch in the eighth inning and threw a hitless inning. Gonnella pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.
Gonnella, Bowles and Fratantuono led the Tigers’ nine-hit attack with two hits each. Gonnella went two-for-three and scored a run while Bowles was two-for-four with one run scored and two RBI’s.
The Tigers continue play in the Navy Tournament on Saturday when they face Pennsylvania at 10:30 a.m.