Towson Error Gives Delaware Thrilling 8-7 Comeback Victory in 12th Inning of CAA Tournament Opener
May 23, 2012
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
HARRISONBURG, Va. – A throwing error on pinch-hitter Eric Young’s sacrifice bunt attempt in the bottom of the 12th inning brought pinch-runner Dan Gatto all the way around from first base and handed the University of Delaware an 8-7 comeback victory over Towson Wednesday night in the opening round of the Colonial Athletics Association Baseball Championship at James Madison’s Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
With the game knotted at 7-7 entering the bottom of the 12th inning, Jimmy Yezzo lined a single through the right side for a leadoff base hit. He was then pinch ran for by pitcher Gatto as another UD pitcher, Young, stepped to the plate.
Young dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base side that was fielded by Towson catcher Andrew Parker, who threw the ball over the first baseman's head and gave Gatto a chance to sprint around the bases to score the game-winning run and cap a wild seven-run comeback victory for the Blue Hens.
The victory helped the No. 3 seed Blue Hens advance to the second round Thursday to take on No. 2 seed Hofstra at 5 p.m. No. 6 seed Towson and No. 4 seed George Mason, which dropped its first round game to No. 5 VCU by an 11-7 score earlier Wednesday, will square off in the elimination game Thursday at 10 a.m. VCU will take on top seed UNCW Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Delaware (28-25) pounded out 15 hits in the epic, extra-inning comeback victory. Leading the offense was Yezzo, who went 3-for-5 with two runs batted in. DJ Long, Nick Ferdinand, Alex Maruri, and Brock Niggebrugge each had two base knocks apiece on the night. Joe Giacchino and Long also scored a pair of runs in the game.
The Blue Hen reliever duo of Devon Pearson (at right) and Eric Buckland was masterful as they held Towson scoreless over the final nine innings of the game.
"We knew that if we could keep Towson at seven runs, we had a chance," Head Coach Jim Sherman stated. "Buckland gave us a chance, coupled that with Pearson out of the bullpen and some key hits by DJ Long and Jimmy Yezzo, there was an opportunity for the victory," he added.
Pearson (5-1), a third team All-CAA selection, earned the victory after he tossed a season-high 5.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen. The southpaw held the Tigers to one hit and four walks while striking out four. Buckland, a right-hander, threw 3.2 hitless innings of relief.
"I could definitely feel myself getting stronger during my time on the mound," Pearson expressed about his longest relief outing of the season. "There was a sense that with our pitching shutting down Towson, that was going to be a spark to get our offense going."
For Towson (26-30), Brandon Gonnella and Zach Fisher accounted for half of the Tigers' 10 hits in the game with three and two hits respectively. Gonnella also scored two runs in the defeat.
Towson reliever Tyler Austin (2-5) suffered the loss for the Tigers after hurling four innings out of the bullpen. Austin struck out nine Blue Hen batters but yielded three hits and one walk while allowing the lone earned run in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning and by the third inning, the Tigers had added two runs on RBI singles by Domonic Fratantuono and Ben Wertz off UD starter Corey Crispell for a 3-1 advantage.
In the top of the fourth inning, a bases-clearing single to right field that was misplayed by Ferdinand for a two-base error added three runs to Towson’s lead at 7-1.
But that would be it for the Towson offense for the rest of the night as Delaware's bullpen shutdown the Tigers the rest of the way and the Hens mounted their huge comeback.
The Blue Hens responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning behind Long’s RBI double down the left-field line and Yezzo’s two-run double to the right-center field gap and cut Towson’s lead to 7-4.
Delaware then added a run in the seventh inning on a Tyler Powell run-scoring infield single to cut the gap to 7-5.
Giacchino’s leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be costly for Towson as the center fielder worked his way around the bases and eventually scored on an Austin wild pitch. Long later lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that was deep enough to allow Niggebrugge to score the game tying run.
Extra innings proved to be difficult for both teams as neither Delaware or Towson could manufacture a run before UD’s 12th inning heroics.
Crispell, a second team All-CAA selection, earned a no-decision for the Blue Hens as the right-hander was charged with seven runs (five earned) on nine hits in three innings on the mound.
Towson’s starter Chris Acker also was handed a no-decision as the right-hander tossed 3.2 innings, yielding four earned runs on seven hits and two walks.