MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. — Ty Warnimont’s two-out, run-scoring single in the top of the ninth inning snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the University of Rio Grande to an eventual 3-1 opening game win over host Milligan College, Friday afternoon, in non-conference baseball action at Anglin Field.
The Buffaloes avoided a sweep of the doubleheader – and the four-game weekend series – by rallying for a 4-3 win in the nightcap.
The split left Rio Grande at 3-5 on the young season.
Milligan closed the weekend at 3-4.
Warnimont, a senior from Rio Grande, Ohio, plated fellow senior Kameron Herring (Heath, OH), who had reached on a one-out single and moved to second on a groundout, with what proved to be the game-winning run.
The RedStorm tacked on an insurance run when Warnimont moved to second on an infield single by sophomore Santiago Martinez (Gahanna, OH), took third on a wild pitch and scored when senior teammate Juan Cruz’s (Juana Diaz, P.R.) grounder to shortstop was booted for an error.
Junior Dalton Wilburn (Ashville, OH), who came on in relief of junior starter Zach Harvey (Kenova, WV) in the eighth inning, allowed a one-out infield hit by Chris Patterson in the ninth, but retired each of the next two batters routinely to seal the win.
Harvey, who was locked in a duel with Milligan starter Garrett Hartley, did not figure into the decision despite allowing just five hits, an unearned run and one walk – along with 10 strikeouts – over seven innings.
Hartley allowed two hits and a run, while walking two and fanning nine over six innings.
Milligan took a 1-0 lead in the second when Clayton Conner led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Brandon Laboy and scored on throwing error as Laboy stole second base.
That’s how things stayed until the Rio sixth when sophomore Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) led off with a single, moved to third on a pair of groundouts and, after a walk to sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH), stole home as part of a double steal with junior courtesy runner Matt Joyce (Minford, OH).
Neither team dented the plate until Rio’s ninth inning rally.
Cruz had a double among Rio’s five hits.
Laboy had two hits for the Buffaloes, while Jeffrey Mefford – the last of three Milligan pitchers – suffered the loss.
Rio Grande appeared to be primed for the sweep after taking a 3-1 lead into the bottom half of the fifth inning of game two, but a two-run home run by Laboy capped a three-run rally to give the Buffaloes a one-run lead.
The RedStorm loaded the bases with one out in the seventh – and final – inning, but Connor Simpson recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Joyce and Cluxton to nail down the win for the home team.
Junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run for Rio, while Warnimont went 2-for-4 and Cruz had an RBI of his own in the loss.
Senior starter Collin Powers (Janesville, WI) suffered the defeat, allowing six hits and four runs over 4-1/3 innings. He also walked four and struck out one.
Laboy went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs for Milligan, while Patterson also had two hits and Conner drove in the other run.
Simpson got the win in relief, allowing two hits and fanning four over 2-2/3 scoreless innings.
Rio Grande is slated to return to action next weekend in Georgia, playing doubleheaders at 15th-ranked Middle Georgia State next Saturday and Sunday.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.