Montgomery, AL – UC Baseball would enter today's elimination game versus St. Thomas in the NAIA Opening Round Montgomery Bracket with something to prove. Early on, things did not go the Patriots' way, but the bats would awaken late as UC would rally to earn a 9-7 win over the Bobcats to move on and end the season for St. Thomas. The win moves the Patriots to 43-16 overall on the season.
Scoring got started by St. Thomas in the top of the third. Three straight hits (double-single-single) would drive in two runs to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead. They continued to add to their lead in the 4th as the first two batters of the inning would reach via single and an error. After a sac bunt, Michael Centeno would drive a three-run home run over the left field fence to give St. Thomas a 5-0 lead. Starter Manny Castellano (JR/Brooklyn, NY) would then come out of the game and be replaced by Zach Hurley (SO/London, KY) in the sixth. In the seventh, STU would pad the lead even further with a RBI sac fly to push the score to 6-0.
UC would see the sticks awaken in the bottom of the seventh. UC would immediately load the bases on an Andrew Ramos (JR/Orange, CA) walk, a Bryan Benz (SO/Arlington, TX) hit-by-pitch, and a Roberto Prado (JR/Vega Baja, P.R.) single. Guillermo Villegas (FR/Petare Caracas, Venezuela) would hit a sac fly to center, driving in the first run of the game for UC to make it 6-1. Robbie Stroub (SO/Cynthiana, KY) would follow with a single to load the bases again. Kevin Pantoja (SR/Vega Baja, P.R.) would then hit a single to drive in another and keep the bags full, making it 6-2 STU.
After a pitching change for the Bobcats, Jesse Reyes (SR/Palm Springs, CA) would single to right center, driving in two to cut the lead to 6-4. Chase Schmittou (SR/Lincoln Park, MI) would then double down the right field line, bringing in another run to make it 6-5 STU. With two on in scoring position, the Bobcats would intentionally walk Landon Byron (SR/Johnson City, TN) to put the double play back in order and get to Ramos. He would then hit his own sac fly to right, bringing in the tying run as it was all square at 6-6 after seven innings of play.
In the eighth, STU would answer with a RBI single to retake the lead at 7-6. UC wasn't done though as they would continue their rally in the bottom of the frame. After a bunt base hit from Prado, Stroub would triple to deep center field, bringing in the tying run again to make it 7-7. Pantoja would follow again with his second RBI single of the game to give UC their first lead of the contest at 8-7. After another pitching change, with one down, Schmittou would hit a sac fly to center, bringing in an insurance run for the Patriots, extending the lead to 9-7.
Hurley would allow the first runner of the ninth on via walk, but a spectacular 6-4-3 double play would erase the base runner and put two away. A pop out to the first base side would end the contest, pushing the Patriots on in the Montgomery Bracket with a 9-7 win.
The win would go to Hurley after going four innings allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out three. Castellano would get the no-decision after five innings of work allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and four walks.
UC will now be back in action again tonight (Tuesday, May 16th) as they take on Truett-McConnell in another elimination game. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 pm central time.
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