TOWSON, MD – Senior first baseman Austin Harclerode lined a game-winning single to center field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning as Towson University (8-14-1) came from behind for a 10-9 victory against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (3-14) at a cold and wet at John B. Schuerholz Park on Wednesday afternoon.
After UMBC had rallied from an 8-6 deficit in the top of the ninth inning, the Tigers came back with a rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Towson catcher Brian Wyman led off the bottom of the ninth by drawing a walk. He was replaced by pinch runner Brady Baxter. Shortstop Nick Natoli followed with a double to deep right center field, sending Baxter to third base. With the infield in, freshman second baseman Pat Fitzgerald hit a ground ball to Retrievers’ second baseman Rich Conlon. Conlon thought he could trap Baxter off third base and threw to third. His throw was wild and Baxter came home to score the tying run.
An intentional walk to third baseman Chris Wychock loaded the bases with no outs. UMBC left-hander Luke DiBlasi struck out sophomore designated hitter Andrew Parker for the first out. Harclerode then drilled DiBlasi’s first pitch to center field for the game-winning single.
The victory marked Towson’s 13th consecutive win over UMBC.
The Retrievers, who trailed by 8-4 after seven innings, rallied for two runs in the eighth inning and added three in the ninth.
In the eighth inning, UMBC first baseman Max Himmelstein led off with a single. With one out, third baseman Curtis Schickner hit a ground ball to Wychock, who committed a throwing error at third base, giving the Retrievers runners on first and third with one out. A single by catcher Rick Phillips drove in Himmelstein to make it an 8-5 lead for the Tiger. After freshman right-hander Troy Bennett was called for a balk, the Retrievers had two runners in scoring position. When pinch hitter Jason Allinder grounded out to second base, Schnickner scored to cut the deficit to 8-6. Freshman right-hander Christian Duclos came in from the bullpen for Towson and walked shortstop Bryan Perlmutter. However, Duclos struck out right fielder Kevin Kean to end the inning.
Trailing by 8-6 in the top of the ninth, the Retrievers batted around as they rallied to take the lead. Designated hitter Michael Pesci led off the inning with a double to left-center field. Conlon reached base when he hit a ground ball to Natoli, who committed an error as Pesci scored to make it an 8-7 game.
Himmelstein followed with an infield hit to put runners on first and second base with no outs. When left fielder Brian Klukowicz doubled to center field, Conlon scored the tying run and the Retrievers had runners on second and third.
Towson coach Mike Gottlieb called upon freshman left-hander Kyle Paul to relieve Duclos. He retired Schickner on a pop-up to second base for the first out. After issuing an intentional walk to Phillips to load the bases, he struck out right fielder Rob McCabe for the second out. Just when it appeared he would work his way out of the jam, Paul issued a bases-loaded walk to Perlmutter, driving in the go-ahead run.
However, he would minimize the damage when he got Kean to hit a fly ball to center field for the third out.
Paul picked up the first win of his college career when the Tigers staged their game-winning rally in the bottom of the ninth inning.
In the top of the first inning, UMBC jumped out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to an error and some timely hitting. Pesci started the offense with one out when he hit a dribbler inside the third base line that went for a single. Conlon followed with a single to right field, giving the Retrievers two runners on base. Himmelstein gave UMBC the lead when he lined an RBI single to center field.
Freshman righthander Chris Acker, making his first career start for Towson, recorded the second out of the inning when he struck out Klukowicz. An error by Wychock on a ground ball hit by Schickner kept the inning alive as Conlon to score with the Retrievers’ second run.
Moments later, Phillips bounced a doubled down the left field line to drive in two runs and give UMBC a 4-0 lead. Acker struck out center fielder Casey Medairy for the final out.
In their half of the first inning, the Tigers wasted little time to trying to trim their deficit. Natoli led off with a double off the left field fence, and second baseman Mike Draper drove in the Tigers’ first run of the game when he doubled to left-center field. Wychock drew a walk and Parker blooped a single to right field, loading the bases.
A sacrifice fly by Harclerode drove in Draper with the Tigers’ second run. After center fielder Ben Winter popped up for the second out, right fielder Steve Rice lined a triple down the right field line that scored two runs, tying the game at 4-4. Right-hander Sean Swetnam of UMBC stranded Rice at third base by getting Dominic Fratantuono on a fly ball to right field.
In the bottom of the second inning, Wyman started the inning by drawing a walk. With one out, Draper drew a walk. Wychock hit a ground ball that looked like it could be a double play, but Conlon’s relay throw was wild as Wyman scored to put the Tigers ahead, 5-4.
In the bottom of the third, the Tigers missed a chance to add to their lead when Rice hit his second triple of the game with two outs. However, Fratantuono grounded out to end the inning.
Right-hander Tyler Bugna came out of the Tiger bullpen in the third inning and threw three shutout innings while striking out three and allowing only one baserunner on a walk. Mike Volpe also threw two scoreless innings.
Still clinging to their 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Tigers extended their lead. With one out, Natoli doubled to left-center. Fitzgerald was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. Then, Wychock unloaded a three-run homer to left to give Towson an 8-4 lead.
It was Wychock’s fourth homer of the season and the 36th home run of his career. He now stands third on the Tigers’ all-time home run list.
Led by Himmelstein, who was three-for-five and scored three runs, UMBC outhit the Tigers, 11-10. Phillips added two hits and drove in three runs.
For the Tigers, seven of their ten hits went for extra bases (four doubles, two triples and a home run).
Natoli and Rice led the Tigers with three hits each. Natoli had three doubles and scored three runs. Rice had two triples and two RBI’s. Wychock drove in three runs while Harclerode had a pair of RBIs.
Towson has won back-to-back games for the first time this season.