George Mason tops VCU in 10th inning to claim first Atlantic 10 title
ST. LOUIS -- Third-seeded George Mason topped fourth-seeded VCU 3-2 in 10 innings to capture the 2014 Atlantic 10 Conference championship Saturday afternoon at the Billiken Sports Complex on the campus of Saint Louis.
Mason did not suffer a defeat in the double-elimination tournament, running its record to 34-20 on the season and earning the A-10’s automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA tournament, which begins on Friday. The Patriots will learn their regional destination during the NCAA selection show set for Monday at noon ET on ESPNU. With the loss, VCU drops to 37-20.
Mason struck first in the top-half of the third inning when the championship’s most outstanding player Luke Willis singled to start the inning, stole second and advanced on an error by the VCU catcher. Brandon Gum then plated Willis with a groundout RBI to make it 1-0. Later in the inning, Blaise Fernandez reached on a Ram error and would advance to third on a Tucker Tobin double. Chris Cook would make it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.
VCU came right back in the bottom half of the inning when Trevor Marino and Cody Acker each singled to start the rally with one out. Mason then took advantage of a pair of Ram errors to tie the game at 2-2.
That would be the extent of the scoring until the decisive 10th inning. Fernandez and Tobin opened the frame with back-to-back singles and each advanced on a Cook sacrifice bunt. After an intentional walk to Josh Leemhuis, Montefusco delivered a line drive to left field that was snagged on a great diving catch by Bill Cullen holding Mason to one run after Fernandez tagged up and scored to make it 3-2.
Tyler Zombro retired VCU in order in the bottom half of the inning to earn the save and secure Mason’s first A-10 baseball championship. Jake Kalish got the win for the Patriots to improve his record to 2-1. The southpaw tossed nine innings, allowing just seven hits and two runs, while striking out seven.
Reliever Seth Greene took the loss, dropping his record to 2-2. Heath Dwyer got the start and went 6.1 innings, surrendering just one earned run.