MOBILE, Ala. — The University of Rio Grande baseball team rallied for three runs in the seventh and final inning of game two and salvaged a split of its season-opening double-header against Martin Methodist (Tenn.), Saturday afternoon at Spring Hill College’s Stan Galle Field.
The RedStorm coughed up a fourth inning lead in the opener, dropping a 4-3 decision, but used their three-run uprising to post a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
Junior Kevin Arroyo (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) and sophomore Chris Ford (Athens, OH) collected three hits in the twinbill, while juniors Grant Tamane (Pickering, Ontario, Canada), Kyle Findley (Cincinnati, OH) and Anthony Knittel (Portsmouth, OH) and freshman Luis Jimenez (Salinas, P.R.) all had two hits each on the day.
Knittel started and took the loss in the opener, while senior Mike Deitsch (Cincinnat, OH) earned the win and senior David Steele (Kettering, OH) notched a save in game two.
In the game two victory, Rio Grande jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring single by Findley and - after the Redhawks tied the game in the home second - the RedStorm regained a one-run advantage thanks to a leadoff home run by Jimenez in the fifth.
Martin Methodist (2-2) tied the game again in the bottom of the fifth, but Rio mounted what proved to be its game-winning rally in the top of the seventh.
Knittel and Jimenez began the inning with consecutive singles and junior Luke Taylor (Pedro, OH) bunted both runners into scoring position, setting the stage for a two-run single to left by sophomore Austin Hall (Wheelersburg, OH).
Arroyo accounted for the final run of the frame with a two-out double to deep right when scored sophomore Tyler Noel (Portsmouth, OH), who came on to run for Hall.
Deitsch, who scattered five hits and a walk while striking out five over the first six innings, gave way to Steele, who closed the door on the Redhawks in the seventh by retiring the side in order, including the final two outs of the day by strikeout.
Arroyo finished 3-for-4, while Jimenez had two hits and scored twice in the victory.
Brodie Jeffery had two hits, while Caleb Lindsey doubled and Blake Truett drove home a run in the loss for Martin Methodist. Clay Brown started and took the loss for the RedHawks, allowing nine of Rio’s 10 hits and all five runs in 6-1/3 innings.
Rio Grande also grabbed an early lead in game one thanks to a two-out first inning home run by Ford.
After MMC tied the game in the third, the RedStorm regained the lead in the home fourth when Tamane opened the inning with a single to left and eventually rode home on a two-out double by Knittel.
The Redhawks took control, though, with three runs in the fifth and never looked back.
Rio did draw to within a run in the sixth when Ford and Findley reached on one-out singles and a two-out throwing error allowed Ford to score.
The RedStorm also threatened in the seventh when Taylor led off with a single and moved to third thanks to a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Hall.
However, one out later, Taylor was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a bunt by Arroyo as Noel - who was running for Hall - advanced into scoring position, but Tamane flied out to right-center to end the game.
Ford had two hits and scored twice in the loss, while Knittel suffered the setback on the hill after allowing three hits, five walks and all four runs in 4-2/3 innings.
Jeffery had two hits and two RBI for MMC, while Blake Beavers allowed six hits and a pair of walks while fanning six in a complete game victory.
“Overall, I thought our guys played pretty well considering we’d only been outside two times prior to today,” said Rio Grande head coach Brad Warnimont. “We did a decent job at the plate, our pitchers threw the ball well, we only made one error in two games - I really couldn’t complain.”
Rio Grande will close out its weekend road swing on Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader against host Spring Hill College. First pitch for the opening game is set for noon.