MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. — After suffering four tough losses against two highly-touted opponents in last weekend’s season-opening road trip to Tennessee, the University of Rio Grande baseball team had a much more pleasant experience in its return to the Volunteer State on Thursday.
The RedStorm banged out 25 hits and scored as many runs in a doubleheader sweep of host Milligan College at Anglin Field.
Rio posted a 15-4 mercy rule-shortened victory in the opener, before rolling to a 10-2 triumph in the seven-inning nightcap.
While the RedStorm improved to 2-4 with the sweep, the Buffaloes – a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference – slipped to 2-3 with the two losses.
Junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) had three hits – including a double – and drove in three runs to pace Rio Grande in the opening game win, while sophomore Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) had three hits and two RBI and senior Kameron Herring (Heath, OH) finished with a pair of doubles and three RBI.
Sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) and senior Ty Warnimont (Rio Grande, OH) also had two hits and two RBI each for the RedStorm, while junior Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) finished 2-for-5 and the senior duo of Juan Cruz (Juana Diaz, P.R.) and Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) each drove in a run.
Rio spotted Milligan a 3-0 first inning lead, but stormed back with four runs in the second to grab the lead for good. Warnimont had a two-run single to highlight the four-run frame.
The RedStorm blew things open by scoring six more times in the fourth and invoked the 10-run mercy rule by tacking on five more markers in the seventh inning.
Herring had a two-run double in the fourth inning uprising, while David Rodriguez had a two-run single and Herring had an RBI double in the seventh.
Senior Jacob Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) earned the win in relief of freshman starter Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH), who failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the home first. Hastings allowed five hits and a run over seven innings, while walking one and fanning four.
Chris Patterson had two hits, including a double and an RBI for the Buffaloes, while Ryan Young added a solo home run and Garrett Dalton had a double in a losing cause.
In game two, Rio Grande grabbed an early 5-0 lead with two runs in the first inning and three more in the second, before turning things into a rout with five markers in the fifth inning.
David Rodriguez had a run-scoring hit in the first, sophomore Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) did the same in the third inning and Blackburn had a two-run double in the fifth.
The Buffaloes got both of their runs on a fourth inning home run by Brandon Laboy.
Herring finished 3-for-4 with a double, while Blackburn finished 2-for-4 with his two RBI in the winning effort.
Senior Osvaldo Duran (Guayanilla, P.R.) started and got the victory, allowing five hits, a pair of walks and the two runs over six innings. The right-hander also struck out nine.
In addition to Laboy’s home run, Bryan Soto added a pinch-hit double for Milligan.
Chandler Daniels started and took the loss for the Buffaloes, allowing 10 hits and as many runs – although only three were earned – over five innings.
The two teams will finish up their weekend series on Friday with another doubleheader beginning at noon. Game one is slated to be a nine-inning contest, while game two will be a seven-inning affair.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.