RIO GRANDE, Ohio — David Rodriguez hit a pair of home runs and Zach Harvey became the school’s single-season strikeout leader as the University of Rio Grande posted a 3-2 game one win over West Virginia University-Tech, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference baseball action at Bob Evans Field.
The Golden Bears prevented the RedStorm from enjoying a Senior Day doubleheader sweep by posting a 5-0 win in the nightcap.
Rio Grande finished the day at 33-18 overall and 17-9 in league play. The loss also assured head coach Brad warnimont’s club of the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament.
WVU-Tech, which has already been eliminated from post-season consideration, settled at 20-29 and 10-16 in league play with the split.
Rodriguez, a senior from Santo Domingo, D.R. and the RedStorm’s home run leader with six entering play on Saturday, had hit just one home run since connecting on five longballs in Rio’s first 15 games.
On Saturday, his two-run blast in the home fourth inning erased a 1-0 deficit and his leadoff blast in the bottom of the eighth – on the first pitch thrown by WVU Tech reliever Casey Elbin – snapped a 2-2 deadlock.
Tech’s Kent Rooklin opened the ninth inning with a single off Rio sophomore reliever Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH), but Fetzer retired each of the next three batters routinely to strand Rooklin at third with the would-be tying run and nail down the win.
Harvey, a senior from Kenova, W.Va., didn’t figure in the decision, but he did strikeout seven batters in his five innings of work to break Desmond Sullivan’s school record of 107 strikeouts set in 2011.
The no-decision, which came after the Golden Bears tied the game on bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning, denied Harvey the opportunity to tie the school’s single-season record for wins (12) held jointly by Tyler Schunk and Ryan Robertson in 2010.
Rio Grande was outhit in the win, 9-7. Junior Eli Daniels (Minford, OH), like Rodriguez, finished with two hits.
Fetzer, the last of three Rio pitchers, earned the win with two innings of two-hit, shutout relief.
Patrick Burke, Kurt Latocha and Robert Funk all had two hits each for Tech, while Cody Hammond and Alex Tennant both drove in a run.
In game two, the Golden Bears parlayed a five-run third inning and a solid pitching performance by Calyb King into a win.
Tech got all of its runs and four of its seven hits in the third. The key play in the frame was an apparent inning-ending double-play grounder off the bat of Andrew Sharp, which Rio senior shortstop Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) errored allowing the second run of the inning – and subsequently runs 3, 4, and 5 – to score.
Meanwhile, King checked the RedStorm on just three singles in a complete game effort. He walked two and fanned six en route to authoring just the third shutout of the RedStorm this season.
Dariel Torres doubled twice and drove in a run for the Golden Bears, while Rooklin went 2-for-3 with a run batted in. Sharp and Doug Pollock also drove in runs for Tech.
Senior Pierce Knisley (Chillicothe, OH) started and took the loss for Rio, allowing six hits and five runs – only two of which were earned – over three innings.
The two teams will wrap up their weekend series with a single, nine-inning game on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.