TOWSON, Md. – Senior rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono had two hits, drew two walks, stole two bases and threw out the tying run at home plate in the sixth inning to lead the Tigers (17-15) to a 4-2 non-conference victory over Bucknell University (19-15-1) at John B. Schuerholz Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Fratantuono also became the 18th player in Towson history to record his 200th base hit when he singled in a run in the first inning.
After sophomore righthander Joe Patton retired the Bison in order in the first inning, the Tigers took advantage of Tommy Gambon’s control problems to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior centerfielder Brandon Gonnella led off by drawing a walk on four pitches. Senior shortstop Pat Fitzgerald also drew a walk to give the Tigers two runners on base with no outs. Gonnella and Fitzgerald moved up a base when senior Kurt Wertz grounded out to first base.
Fratantuono gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when he singled to right, scoring Gonnella as Fitzgerald took third base. It was the 200th base hit of his career. Junior first baseman Peter Bowles gave Towson a 2-0 lead when he hit a sacrifice fly to left. Gambon escaped the jam when he struck out freshman Brady Policelli.
The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning when Wertz smashed his fourth home run of the season over the rightfield fence. When Fratantuono followed with a single, Gambon was relieved by freshman lefthander Jack Schoenberger. Schoenberger gave up a single to Bowles but Bowles was thrown out trying to stretch his single into two bases while Fratantuono reached third base. Schoenberger escaped the jam when Policelli lined out to third base and Brendan Butler was retired on a fly ball to rightfield.
After pitching five innings of shutout ball, Patton ran into trouble in the top of the sixth inning. Junior shortstop Greg Wasilowski led off by drawing a walk. Freshman centerfielder Brett Smith followed with a ground ball back through the box. Patton deflected the potential double play ground ball and Smith had the Bison’s second hit of the game. When Patton walked senior designated hitter Corey Furman, Bucknell had the bases loaded with no outs.
At that point, senior righthander Greg Baruka came out of the bullpen to relieve Patton. Baruka struck out sophomore leftfielder Jon Mayer for the first out. However, he walked junior Anthony Gingerelli on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Wasilowski with the Bison’s first run. Junior first baseman Rob Krentzman lined out to Bowles at first base for the second out.
Junior second baseman Alex O’Neill came through with a single to right, scoring Smith. However, Fratantuono made a great throw from rightfield to catcher Zach Fisher. The throw was in plenty of time for Fisher to tag out Furman, preserving the Tigers’ 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers squandered a chance to break the game open. Wertz led off with a double to left and Fratantuono walked. After a sacrifice bunt by Bowles, the Tigers had runners on second and third with one out. With Policelli at bat, the Tigers tried a suicide squeeze bunt. When Policelli missed the pitch, Wertz was easily retired by the catcher, Justin Meier. Moments later, Policelli drilled a double down the left field line to score Fratantuono and up the lead to 4-2. An infield single by Butler gave the Tigers runners on first and third. With senior Hunter Bennett at the plate, the Tigers tried a double steal. However, freshman lefthander Mike Castellani kept his poise and threw to the plate where Policelli was retired.
Sophomore righthander Garrett Walther came out of the Tiger bullpen and retired the Bison in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
Gonnella, the Tigers’ closer, came in to pitch the ninth inning and preserve the lead. After retiring the first two hitters of the inning, he issued back-to-back walks to O’Neill and pinch hitter Danny Rafferty. However, he nailed down the win by getting Will Mooney to ground out to third base.
Patton improved his record to 3-2 by pitching five innings. He allowed two runs on two hits He walked five and struck out four. Baruka allowed no runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Walther struck out three in two perfect innings while Gonnella threw a scoreless ninth to record his eighth save.
The Tigers, who outhit Bucknell by a 12-3 margin, were led by Fratantuono, Gonnella, Wertz and Bowles, who had two hits each. Fratantuono had two hits, scored a run and had one run batted in. Gonnella had two hits and scored a run while Wertz had two hits, including a double and a solo homer. Bowles also had a pair of hits and drove in a run.
The Tigers return to action this weekend when they visit UNC Wilmington for a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series.