Towson Outlast Monarchs, 17-10 in CAA Tournament
By ODU Athletics
May 22, 2008
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Senior outfielder Brian Conley's grand slam highlighted a nine-run uprising in the third inning as sixth-seeded Towson stayed alive in the 2008 Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championship with a wild 17-10 triumph over fifth-seeded Old Dominion Thursday at Brooks Field.
The Tigers improved to 29-27 by winning for the third time in four meetings with the Monarchs this season. TU will play again Friday, but its game time and opponent won't be known until the results of games later today. The Monarchs, meanwhile, dropped their second game in the tournament to close out the season with a 25-27 record.
Junior righthander Austin Hurd, the first of four Tiger pitchers, faced just 11 batters before being pulled in favor of Spencer Patton. Hurd allowed three earned runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings, walking two and fanning one. Patton allowed six runs on nine hits over six innings to improve to 5-3 this season.
ODU starter Ryan Bergh, a senior righty who finished second in the CAA in earned run average, worked 2 2/3 innings and coughed up seven runs - four earned - on four hits, walking one and striking out none. He started the game retiring the first seven batters he faced. Bergh took the loss, winding up with a 6-6 record in his final collegiate appearance.
In a game that featured a collective 27 runs, 31 hits and six errors by the two clubs, Towson shook off an early deficit to send the Monarchs packing. Every Tiger in the starting lineup had at least one hit in the 3:19 marathon.
It was the highest scoring CAA Tourney game since May 22, 2003, when sixth-seeded George Mason outscored fifth-seeded Towson, 25-10, at cozy Coy Tillet Field in Manteo, N.C.
Conley went 3-for-4, scored twice and drove in five runs to anchor Towson's 15-hit attack. Four other Tigers had two hits apiece, including sophomore shortstop Nick Natoli and junior designated hitter Matt Collins, who had three RBI's each.
Sophomore shortstop Gerard Hall went 4-for-5, scored three times and came within a home run of hitting for the cycle. Hall finished the season with a .361 batting average which is second on the squad.
ODU pushed across a run in its first at-bat behind Shawler's two-out, RBI double and added two more tallies in the second for a quick 3-0 margin. In the second, Jake McAloose drew a leadoff walk and Hall singled sharply to left. After Edgar Hernandez bunted both runners over, Chris Keenan's single plated McAloose and Jimmy Miles then lofted a sacrifice fly to score Hall with ODU's third run.
Towson answered back in a big way in the bottom half of the third, sending 14 batters to the plate in its nine-run explosion. With one down, Austin Harcelrode reached on an error by Bergh. After Gary Helmick walked, Natoli laced an RBI single and Kevin Collins was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Conley then smashed his decisive grand slam over the 380-foot mark in center to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead.
The rally continued when Matt Collins reached on an infield single and Greg Fermanek followed with his 12th round tripper of the season to stake Towson to a 7-3 bulge. Steve Yarsinsky and Harcelrode coaxed walks from ODU reliever Kyle Hald and Helmick brought Yarsinsky home with an RBI single. Natoli then capped the nine-run outburst with a run-scoring safety to left.
ODU chopped the deficit to 9-4 when Jimmy Miles raced home when the Tigers turned a double play in the top of the fifth. Towson responded with a run in the bottom of the frame when Fermanek reached and scored on two separate errors. The Monarchs sliced the lead to 10-6 on three hits in the top of the sixth. Hall ripped an RBI triple and Hernandez delivered an RBI single to account for the scoring to bring ODU within four runs.
Matt Collins homered for the first time since April 12 when he slugged a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth to stretch Towson's lead to 13-6. After the Tigers added another run to increase the margin to 14-6 in the seventh, the Monarchs pushed across three runs in the eighth to make the score, 14-9. With two outs, Cipolla delivered a two-run double and Burns contributed an RBI single.
TU wrapped three hits about three walks to come up with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth and the lead swelled back to 17-9. ODU's final run came in the ninth when Hall doubled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI single by Miles.
ODU Head Coach Jerry Meyers:
"It was a tough game to swallow. Obviously, we had to face them three times earlier this year. They swung the bats early. It wasn't like they weren't ready to see our guys.
Offensively, they've done it all year and we just couldn't get enough out of our bullpen. We couldn't put up enough zeros up there. They have solid hitters in their lineup and are aggressive, so you can't get behind them. When you do, they hurt you.