TOWSON, Md. – Sophomore rightfielder Joe Patton and two relief pitchers combined to pitch a two-hitter and strike out seven batters as the Tigers (14-9) remained unbeaten at home with a 4-1 victory over Delaware State University (12-9) at John B. Schuerholz Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Patton, who evened his record at 2-2, gave up only one run on two hits in five innings of work. He walked three and struck out three as he won his second consecutive start.
Senior lefthander Kyle Paul relieved Patton and threw two shutout innings, allowing no hits. Senior righthander Brandon Gonnella earned his sixth save of the season by pitching two perfect innings of relief to nail down the win.
The Hornets, who were held to a pair of hits, came into the game with a .342 team batting average.
Senior catcher Mike Alexander and senior leftfielder Aaron Nardone had the Hornets’ hits. Alexander had a two-out single in the first inning while Nardone hit a solo home run with two outs in the third inning.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when they strung three hits together. Junior first baseman Peter Bowles led off with an infield single. He advanced to second base when junior third baseman Brendan Butler singled to rightfield. With one out, senior Pat Fitzgerald got a new life when rightfielder Hassan Evans dropped a foul ball, prolonging his plate appearance. When Fitzgerald grounded out to second base, Bowles and Butler moved into scoring position.
Senior second baseman Hunter Bennett gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead when he drilled a single to centerfield, scoring two runs. After a walk to senior Zach Fisher, righthander Zach Candeloro struck out Gonnella to end the inning.
With two outs in the top of the third inning, Nardone cut the Hornets’ deficit to 2-1 when he blasted a solo home run over the rightfield fence on a 3-2 pitch.
In the bottom of the third, the Tigers added to their lead. Senior Dominic Fratantuono led off with a walk. After he reached second base on a wild pitch, Butler lined a two-out single to right, scoring Fratantuono with the Tigers’ third run of the game. Butler was retired trying to steal second base, ending the inning.
Patton protected the 3-1 lead into the sixth inning when he was relieved by Paul.
The Hornets missed a chance to cut into their deficit in the seventh inning when Evans led off the inning by reaching on an error by Fitzgerald. After Evans moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, Paul pitched out of the inning by striking out catcher Charles Dailey and third baseman David Kimbrough.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers rallied against relief pitcher Bobby Brown. Fratantuono led off with a single before Kurt Wertz drew a walk. After Bowles grounded into a force play, he reached second base on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third, Butler was walked intentionally to load the bases.
When third baseman Matt Draper drew a bases-loaded walk, the Tigers owned a 4-1 lead. But, Brown came back to pitch out of the jam by getting Fitzgerald to ground into a force play with Bowles getting forced out at home plate. Then, Bennett grounded out to end the inning.
The Tigers outhit Delaware State by a 7-2 margin as Bowles and Butler had two hits each. Bowles had two hits and scored a run while Butler had two hits and one RBI.
Towson returns to action on Friday when the Tigers host the College of Charleston in their Colonial Athletic Association opener.