ATHENS, Tenn. – After earning a split – and nearly collecting a sweep – of No. 15 Bryan College on Friday afternoon, the University of Rio Grande had hopes of doing the same to 12th-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan on Saturday.
The Bulldogs were thinking otherwise, though.
The hosts built big leads in both games and rolled to a doubleheader sweep of the RedStorm, winning 11-5 and 8-0 in non-conference action at Athens Insurance Stadium’s Jack Bowling Field.
Tennessee Wesleyan, the preseason favorite in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, was playing its season-opening games.
Rio Grande fell to 4-3 as a result of the losses.
In the opener, Tennessee Wesleyan snapped a scoreless tie with a five-run third inning before scoring twice in the fourth and once in the fifth to open up an 8-0 lead.
Rio Grande made things interesting with four runs in the top of the sixth, but the Bulldogs snuffed out hopes of a comeback by the RedStorm by getting three runs back in the home half of the sixth.
Aloysius Cruz finished 3-for-4 with a home run, double and five runs batted in for Tennessee Wesleyan, while Dan Fry went 2-for-4 with a home run and Bryce Giles clubbed a solo home run.
Cole Bellair allowed four hits and four runs while striking out seven over 5-1/3 innings to get the win for the Bulldogs.
Senior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) hit a three-run home run, while junior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) had two hits for Rio Grande. Freshman Clayton Sorrell (Carroll, OH) started and took the loss for the RedStorm.
Game two saw Tennessee Wesleyan grab a 1-0 first inning lead before blowing things open with a four-run second inning uprising.
Giles went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs, a double and five RBI to lead the Bulldogs, while Jhosmel Rodriguez had two hits, including a double, and a run batted in. Adrian Marquez added a solo home run to the winning effort.
Irving Martin started and got the win for Wesleyan, allowing three hits over 4-2/3 shutout innings. He also walked three and struck out six.
Senior Zach Harvey (Kenova, WV) started and took the loss for Rio, allowing nine hits and eight runs over 4-2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Offensively, the RedStorm managed just four singles in the loss.
Rio Grande returns to action next Friday when it faces Huntington (IN) University in the Clash of the Conferences at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.