Towson Baseball drops CAA home-opener against UNCW
By: Doug Ditto, Staff Writer
The Towson Baseball team’s pitching staff was unable to settle in until it was too late, in a game headlined by early offense.
Right-hander Justin Rebok started the game on the mound for the Tigers as they played host to a St. Patrick’s Day game against the UNC Wilmington Seahawks.
The Seahawks were able to notch a run in the top of the first inning as second baseman Brock Willis led off with a double to right field before being driven in by Tanner Thach. Thach, who was selected in the 18th round of last year’s MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, came into the game leading the Seahawks in home runs and runs batted in.
The Tigers’ bats responded in the bottom half of the inning with three hits and three runs off of Seahawks right-hander Jacob Shafer. Catcher Brian Heckelman and first baseman Reyce Curnane drove in the runs for the Tigers.
Rebok’s second inning got derailed when an error by Tigers centerfielder Moses allowed the Seahawks to tie the game at three. The Tigers escaped any further damage as Rebok got Thach to ground out to end the top of the second, knotted at three.
Tigers designated hitter Jack Lawrence laced a single to left field to start the bottom half of the inning for a Tigers offense looking to regain the lead. The Tigers loaded the bases before recording an out. Shortstop Casey Bishop singled in Lawrence to give the Tigers the lead and a sacrifice fly by Heckelman extended it to 5-3.
The heart of the UNCW batting order got their first two hitters aboard to begin the third inning, but Rebok responded by retiring the next two hitters including a strikeout of Trevor Marsh. Rebok, who was relieved by right-hander Luis Rivera, finished the day having tossed two-and two-thirds innings, surrendering six hits and five runs, of which just one was earned.
The Seahawks bats greeted Rivera by lining consecutive hard grounders to Bishop at shortstop. Bishop was unable to corral the first ball, which was hit 97 mph off the bat of Pitarra, and made a terrific stab at the second ball but couldn’t hang on to it after an awkward collision on a play at second base. Runs scored on each play; allowing the Seahawks to even the score at five runs apiece.
Once again the Tigers regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a pinch-hit RBI by Cole Stefano. He remained in the game, replacing James Moses in center field.
The top of the Seahawks’ lineup responded to start the fourth with their third straight two-run inning to pull ahead 7-6. Rivera pitched an inning and a third for the Tigers and allowed two earned runs on four hits.
Shafer threw the game’s first scoreless frame in the bottom of the fourth as he retired the side in order to maintain the lead.
Rivera allowed two hits in the top of the fifth but a sliding stop by second baseman Jordan Peyton kept the Seahawks to just one run in the inning. Rivera pitched two-and-a-third innings for the Tigers, allowing six hits and three earned runs.
Shafer delivered his second consecutive scoreless frame in the bottom of the fifth thanks in large part to a sliding basket catch by left fielder Dillon Lifrieri. He finished his day eligible for a win having surrendered six runs, three of which were earned, over his five innings pitched.
Right-hander Max Simpson was the Tigers’ third pitcher of the day, taking over in the top of the sixth inning. Simpson was able to navigate his way to a scoreless frame of his own as he solicited a flyout to Stefano in shallow center to escape a bases-loaded jam.
Connor Kane, another right-hander, came in to pitch for the Seahawks in the bottom of the sixth hoping to preserve their 8-6 advantage. Bishop nearly drew the game even for Towson with a two-run home run but instead was retired as it fell into the glove of Seahawks’ centerfielder Trevor Marsh on the warning track in left-centerfield.
Simpson tossed another scoreless inning for the Tigers in the top of the seventh despite their third error of the day.
Towson failed to score for their fourth consecutive inning in the bottom of the seventh as Connor Kane elicited some soft contact by the Tigers.
Seahawks’ leadoff man Brock Wills drove in the first run off of Simpson in the top of the eighth when he dropped a double down the left field line. He came around to score the Seahawks’ tenth run on a single by Lifrieri, which chased Simpson from the ballgame after two-and-two-thirds innings of work. He was relieved by Tyler Russo, a southpaw, who got the Tigers out of the top half of the inning trailing 10-6.
Kane made quick work of the bottom of the eighth as he tossed a 1-2-3 inning.
John Newton cranked a leadoff home run to deep left field for the Seahawks to start the ninth, which marked the end of the day for Russo. He was relieved by Peyton, the Tigers’ starting second baseman. Peyton surrendered a home run to Marsh making it back-to-back jacks for the Seahawks, who needed just three outs for the win.
Kane slammed the door on the series opener as he picked up the save with his fourth scoreless frame of the day to give the Seahawks a 12-6 victory over the Tigers. Towson returns to action on Saturday to face UNCW again at 1 p.m., the second game of a three-game series.