CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — At some point, regardless of if Fay Wray was in tow, King Kong was bound to leave the Empire State Building.
On Tuesday night, the gorilla that had been ensconced on the collective backs of the University of Rio Grande baseball team since day one of the 2020 season finally decided to move on.
The RedStorm snapped an 18-game season-opening losing slide by sweeping a non-conference doubleheader from Ohio University-Chillicothe, 22-1 and 11-3, at a windswept VA Memorial Stadium.
The wins ended the worst start to a season in program history.
The losses were the first games played by the Hilltoppers this season.
Game one saw Rio Grande send 13 batters to the plate in an eight-run first inning before 17 batters reached the dish in an 11-run second inning follow-up.
The RedStorm shredded four OU-Chilli pitchers for a season-high 20 hits, while also drawing nine walks and having five batters reach after being hit by a pitch.
Freshman Carter Smith (Point Pleasant, WV) finished 3-for-3 with five runs batted in, while senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) also had three hits — including two doubles — and four RBI.
Sophomore Cole Dyer (Wheelersburg, OH) went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs in the winning effort, while freshmen Albert Bobadilla (Bronx, NY) and Josh Wolfe (Hillsboro, OH) both had two hits and a run batted in and senior Isaiah Lewis (Willingboro, NJ) added a double and three RBI.
Junior Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH) — the first of four Rio Grande pitchers — earned the win by tossing two innings of one-hit shutout ball and striking out four.
OU-Chillicothe avoided a shutout in its final at bat thanks to an RBI single by Andrew Mershon.
Gunner Free, the first of four hurlers for the Hilltoppers, took the loss. He allowed six hits, four walks and eight runs — all earned — in his one inning of work.
In game two, Rio Grande raced to an 8-2 lead after three innings and was never headed.
Freshman Austin Kendall (Troy, OH) and senior Juan Familia (Reading, PA) were the RedStorm’s heavy hitters in the victory. Both finished 3-for-3 and drove in a run.
Lewis went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while sophomore Peyton Overturf (West Frankfort, IL) also had two hits and Dyer drove in two runs.
Freshman southpaw John Steward (Fort Myers, FL) started and retired the side in order in each of his two innings on the bump to earn the win. He struck out three.
Jacob Chester started and suffered the loss for OU-Chilli, allowing nine hits and eight runs — four earned — over three innings.
Triples by L.T. Maynard and Roman Long accounted for the Hilltoppers’ only hits. Maynard and Rex Hartman drove in one run each.
Rio Grande returns to action this weekend for its first River States Conference home series. The RedStorm is slated to host Asbury University in a single game at Bob Evans Field on Friday, at 2 p.m., as well as in a doubleheader on Saturday at noon.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.