May 20, 2009

Courtesy of George Mason Athletics

WILMINGTON, N.C. - Brent Weiss had a bases-loaded game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth inning as the top-seeded George Mason baseball team rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit to beat the sixth-seeded Delaware Blue Hens 6-5 in the opening round of the six-team double-elimination Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Tournament in Wilmington, N.C. The Patriots (41-10) will remain in the winner's bracket and will play at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. Their opponent will be the loser of Wednesday's 7 p.m. game between third-seeded UNCW and fourth-seeded ODU.

Ryan Soares led off the ninth with a single, Shane Davis followed with a double, his third hit of the game, and Mark Hill was intentionally walked to bring up Weiss, who finished the day 3 for 3. Weiss lined a 2-2 pitch up the middle against a drawn-in infield to bring home Soares and move Mason closer to its first CAA Championship since 1992.

Delaware jumped out early on the Patriots with a leadoff single from Carlos Alonso and a walk by Ryan Cuneo. Chris Nehl followed with a grounder that eliminated Cuneo but the throw back to first in an attempt to get a double play was off line and Alonso scored. With two outs, Bill Merkler hit a ball that just cleared the fence in center to put the Blue Hens ahead, 3-0. After that Mason starter Kevin Crum settled in striking out four of the next five batters. But in the top of the third, Cuneo lined a ball off of Crum and that ended the day for the Mason starter. Ryan Pfaeffle came on in relief and he pitched brilliantly, allowing just one run on two hits in four and one-third innings.

The Patriots got on the board in the bottom of the third when Josh Steinberg, Spencer Wiggins and Scott Krieger all walked and Justin Bour was hit by a pitch to make it 3-1. Mason was kept off the board in the fourth when Wiggins flew out to deep center with two runners on. In the fifth, Mason was able to tie the score as Chris Henderson reached on an error and Krieger walked and with two outs, Davis singled to left to bring home Henderson. Merkler misplayed the ball and Krieger scored on the play to make it 3-3. 

Mason took its first lead of the game in the sixth when Weiss doubled, Ryan Uphouse reached on a bunt single moving Weiss to third and he scored on a Henderson sacrifice fly to center. Delaware tied the game in the seventh when Merkler doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Jared Olson ground out. In the bottom of the eighth, with two outs, Krieger took a 1-2 pitch and blasted the ball over the fence in right-center to put Mason ahead, 5-4. But in the bottom of the inning, Merkler led off with a shot to the same spot, tying the game at 5-5 and setting the stage for the dramatic finish.