Tigers walk off to stay in contention
By Tim Klapac, Senior Editor
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Heading into their weekend series with William & Mary, Towson had won seven of their last 10 games. Unfortunately, the hitting would struggle early on in the weekend as the Tigers (12-31, 6-9 CAA) would drop the first two games of the series before beating the Tribe (25-19, 7-11 CAA) on Sunday.
For most of Sunday’s game, it looked as if a sweep at the hands of a conference opponent would be inevitable as Towson trailed 3-0 entering the seventh inning.
“We had to have something go our way,” said Head Coach Matt Tyner. “William & Mary had made every play, looked great.”
But a single by senior utility Richard Miller was followed up by a double from freshman catcher Trent Gast-Woodard that turned into an unlikely result. A throwing by the William & Mary went out of play, allowing Gast-Woodard to score and cut the Tribe’s lead to one.
“I had to send Miller and, luckily for us, it squirted through that catcher’s legs and Trent did a great job of hustling because if he doesn’t get second base, he would not have gotten to the plate,” Tyner said. “That turned the tide, it raised our level up significantly. You need something like that to not only get the momentum going but to get the monkey off our back.”
That seventh inning provided a necessary boost for the Tigers both on the mound and at the plate. Sophomore pitcher Jake Pecilunas put together another strong showing out of the bullpen. Pecilunas (2-0) allowed one hit through 2 ⅓ shutout innings to keep the score at 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
“[Pecilunas] embraced the role as a reliever and continues to work on command. Fundamentally sound, mechanically driven,” Tyner said. “Pec is on a roll and we wanted that type of situation for him.”
Towson got the first two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, setting up the perfect opportunity for the Tigers. A sacrifice bunt from Gast-Woodard moved the runners to second and third and a groundout from junior outfielder Tom Flacco tied the game at three. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the winning run on third base, freshman outfielder Javon Fields stepped up to the plate.
“You love to see the growth and you certainly love to see the confidence,” Tyner said. “[Fields] has got skills and charisma, he’s gonna be something.
Fields would hit a looping fly ball into shallow right field. As the William & Mary fielders converged on the ball, Fields rounded second and the winning run was headed home. A Tribe fielder dove for the ball but it hit the ground, allowing the run to cross for the 4-3 victory.
“To win it in that type of dramatic fashion, says a lot about our guys,” Tyner said.
On Saturday, Towson couldn’t catch a break, as William & Mary shut out the Tigers, 7-0.
Despite six hits through the first five innings, Towson failed to get a run across. Missed opportunities, such as the Tigers failing to score after having runners on first and third to start the bottom of the third, are frustrating to see for a coach
“I’m going down to the coach’s box and second guessing, what do you think an 18-year-old is doing?” Tyner said. “We had great pitching and we just sabotaged ourselves on the bases or couldn’t get the big hit. But this is tournament baseball and it’s tough.”
Towson wouldn’t get another runner to third base the rest of the game.
After Friday’s game time was moved up due to inclement weather, the Tigers couldn’t do enough offensively in the 5-2 loss.
“One thing we need to caution, myself included, we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot, can’t make outs on the bases, play solid defense, be effective at the plate, continue to throw strikes on the mound,” Tyner said.
Although freshman outfielder Isaiah Winikur and junior first baseman Brad Powers each had solo home runs, Towson was unable to bring anymore runs across.
Sophomore pitcher Josh Seils kept the Tribe in check for most of the game, William & Mary got to him for four runs, three of them earned. Seils (2-6) went 7 ⅔ innings with five strikeouts.
With 10 games remaining this season, the Tigers are in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Standings with Delaware, Hofstra, and James Madison, whom Towson places this weekend. The top six teams make it to the CAA Tournament.
“We want a shot of that conference tournament,” Tyner said. “Batten down the hatches and buckle up, because it’s about to get crazy up in here.”
Towson travels to Harrisonburg, Virginia to face the Dukes in a three-game series, beginning on Friday, May 3 at 6 p.m.