BLUEFIELD, Va. — Marcus Makuch had two hits and drove in five runs, while David Steele flirted with perfection in a masterful pitching performance as the University of Rio Grande routed Bluefield (Va.) College, 12-0, in a mercy rule-shortened Mid-South Conference game, Saturday night, at chilly Bowen Field.
The RedStorm improved to 16-20 overall and 4-12 in league play with their third straight win, snapping a seven-game MSC losing streak in the process.
Bluefield slipped to 22-11 overall and 6-9 in the conference.
Makuch, a senior from Baltimore, Ohio, had a two-run single for Rio in the third inning and delivered a three-run double in what finished as a six-run fifth inning uprising.
Steele, a senior right-hander from Kettering, Ohio, allowed just one baserunner in a complete game effort - a fluke infield single by Tyler Timmer in the home half of the third.
“David should have had a perfect game,” said Rio Grande head coach Brad Warnimont. “It was a popup between the plate and the mound and there was a little miscommunication as to who was going to get it. The ball hit the front slope of the mound and had some english on it. It started and rolling toward the foul line and, just before it got there, David picked it up and tried to make a play. Had he let it go, it probably would’ve gone foul. He was really upset with himself after the game. He threw the ball very well.”
Steele finished with four strikeouts in evening his record at 4-4.
Rio also got two hits, three runs scored and a run batted in from sophomore Chris Ford (Athens, OH), while freshman Luis Jimenez (Salinas, Puerto Rico) drove in a pair of runs.
Zac Russell-Myers started and took the loss for the Rams.
Rio Grande scored what proved to be the only run it would need in the second inning when Ford reached on a one-out walk, moved to third on a single by sophomore Kirk Yates (Chillicothe, OH) and flyout by Jimenez and then stole home as part of a double-steal with Yates.
The lead reached 3-0 in the third.
Freshman Clark Rice (Louisa, KY) led off with double and was replaced by senior courtesy runner Eric Ford (Chagrin Falls, OH), who moved to third when junior Kevin Arroyo (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) reached on a bunt single. Arroyo reached scoring position as a result of defensive indifference and, one out later, Makuch brought both runners home with a single to right-center.
It was the fifth inning, though, when the RedStorm lowered the boom on Russell-Myers and the Rams.
Rice got things going with a walk and was once again replaced by Ford, who moved to third when Arroyo was hit by a pitch and junior Grant Tamane (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) reached on an infield single.
Makuch then lined an 0-2 pitch down the left field line to clear the bases and make it 6-0. One out later, a single by Chris Ford allowed Makuch to score and, after Yates was hit by a pitch and a passed ball, Jimenez singled to right-center to plate both runners and make it 9-0.
Rio set itself up for the mercy rule win by pushing across three more runs in the seventh inning.
Junior Kyle Findley (Cincinnati, OH) led off with a walk and was replaced at first base by freshman pinch-runner Carlos Flores (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico), who promptly moved to second on a single to right by Chris Ford.
Flores scored when Yates’ grounder to second was errored and Ford crossed home when Jimenez hit a grounder to first base that was also errored.
Yates scored the final run of the contest when freshman Daryin Lewis (Circleville, OH) grounded into a double-play.
The two teams will complete their weekend series with a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.