Natoli Leads Tigers To Split At Wake Forest
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 03/05/2011
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Nick Natoli had four base hits in two games on Saturday.
Courtesy:Scott Thornton

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Senior shortstop Nick Natoli banged out four hits and scored four runs as the Tigers (4-6) split a pair of games at the Wake Forest Classic at Wake Forest Park on Saturday afternoon.

After a 16-9 loss to Fordham, the Tigers bounced back to beat Wake Forest, 9-6. The Tigers finished the tournament with a 1-2 record.

Natoli, who had two doubles and a triple, became the 14th player in Towson history with 200 career base hits when he tripled in the fifth inning of the win over Wake Forest.

The Tigers, who entered Saturday's game with a .222 team batting average, scored 18 runs on 26 hits in the two games.

In the win over Wake Forest (4-6), Natoli led off the game with a double to left centerfield. He scored the first run of the game when junior centerfielder Ben Winter followed with an RBI double to right field. With two outs, senior Steve Rice doubled home another run to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Senior first baseman Austin Harclerode capped off the rally with an RBI single to right field, giving Towson a 3-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the first inning, senior righthander Charlie Cononie struggled. After walking Brett Armour to lead off the frame, Steven Brooks singled with out. After both runners moved into scoring position on an infield grounder, leftfielder Mac Williams lined a two-run single to left, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

After giving up two first inning runs, Cononie settled down and retired 14 batters in a row. In the third inning, the Tigers added another run when Chris Wychock led off with a double and went to third base on a single by Andrew Parker. Wychock scored the Tigers' fourth run of the game when Rice grounded into a double play.

The Tigers extended their lead to 6-2 in the fifth inning. Natoli led off the inning with a triple to right field, his 200th career hit. Winter's doubled to left center drove in Natoli for a 5-2 advantage. Parker's double to left gave Towson a 6-2 edge.

In the bottom of the sixth, Wake Forest scored a run when James Harris and Matt Conway doubled. Harris' double was the first base runner allowed by Cononie since the first inning.

In the eighth inning, the Tigers upped their lead to 9-2 by adding three more runs. A single by Harclerode and walks to Brandon Gonnella and Mike Draper loaded the bases. A pinch hit double by freshman Dominic Fratantuono drove in two runs before Draper scored on a wild pitch,

Cononie left the game after pitching seven outstanding innings. He gave up three runs on four hits with two walks and a career best nine strikeouts.

He was relieved by sophomore righthander Michael Trionfo. Trionfo gave up two runs on three hits in the eighth inning before pitching out of a ninth inning jam to preserve the win.

In the win, Natoli, Winter, Parker and Harclerode each had two hits.

Fordham (8-2) rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the second inning to hand the Tigers a 16-9 loss in the first game on Saturday.

The Tigers took a 1-0 first inning lead against the Rams when Natoli walked, stole second base and scored on a double by Wychock, the first of four hits he had in the game.

In the second inning, the Tigers added four runs to extend their lead to 5-0. Fratantuono started the rally with one out when he reached base on an error. A walk to catcher Brian Wyman put two runners on base. Draper's single to right gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead. After Natoli was retired on a pop up, Winter lined a two-run double to right field. Wychock capped off the rally with an RBI single.

Trailing by 5-0, Fordham rallied for eight runs on six hits to take an 8-5 lead. Leftfielder Stephen McSherry had the biggest hit of the inning when he lined a three-run double to left.

In the fourth inning, the Tigers trimmed their deficit to 8-6 when Wychock doubled and Rice singled,

Fordham responded with a five-run rally in the bottom of the fourth to up its lead to 13-6. The Rams added another run in the fifth inning for a 14-6 advantage.

In the sixth inning, the Tigers made a bid to get back into the game. They loaded the bases with one out when Wychock singled, Rice walked and Harclerode was hit by a pitch. A bases-loaded walk to Brady Baxter drove in a run before Daniel Munday came out of the bullpen to strike out Wyman and retire Draper on a ground ball to shortstop.

The Tigers cut their deficit to 14-9 in the seventh inning when Natoli led off with a double and Winter drew a walk. After Wychock grounded out and Parker popped up, Rice drew a walk to load the bases. A two-run single by Harclerode cut the lead to 14-9 before Baxter struck out to end the inning.

Designated hitter Chris Walker led Fordham by going four-for-four with two runs batted in. McSherry added three hits and drove in four runs.

"It was a long day but at least it had a happy ending for us," said Coach Mike Gottlieb.

In the two games, Natoli was four-for-eight, scored four runs, walked three times and stole two bases. Wychock went 5-for-11 with three doubles while Winter had three doubles and drove in four runs.

The Tigers return to action on Wednesday afternoon when they host Navy in their home opener at 2:30 p.m.

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