WILMORE, Ky. — Jesse Watson and Eli Daniels both hit home runs to back another strong pitching performance from Zach Kendall as the University of Rio Grande upended Asbury University, 6-2, Friday afternoon, in River States Conference baseball action at Cecil C. Zweifel Field.
The RedStorm won for a fourth straight time, improving to 12-21 overall and 5-8 in conference play.
Asbury dropped to 21-8 overall and 8-5 inside the RSC.
Watson, a senior from Las Cruces, N.M., gave Rio a lead it would never relinquish with a two-out, two-run home run in the first inning against Asbury starter Will McDonald and, after the Eagles got one of the runs back in the bottom of the frame on a home run by Trevor Campbell, Daniels — a senior from Minford, Ohio — led off the second with his first homer of the season to make it 3-1.
That was all the help that Kendall would need.
The graduate senior right-hander from Troy, Ohio authored his second straight complete game effort for his fifth victory in eight decisions. He allowed five hits and a walk, while striking out eight.
Over the course of his last three outings, Kendall is 2-1 with a 2.52 earned run average with 18 hits, three walks and 30 strikeouts over 25 innings pitched.
Asbury closed the gap to 3-2 in the fourth inning when C.J. Compton singled, Matthew Baker doubled and a passed ball allowed Compton to score, but the RedStorm pulled away with two runs in the seventh inning and another marker in the ninth.
Senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) and sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) had run-scoring hits in the seventh inning, while senior Kent Reeser (Miamisburg, OH) had an RBI infield single in the ninth.
Sophomore II-Zadod Gabriel (Toledo, OH) had a career-high four hits — including a double — in the winning effort for Rio, while Cluxton and Reeser had three hits each and the duo of Daniels and junior Billy Cooper (Jackson, OH) finished with two hits each. Surrell’s hit total also included a double.
Rio Grande finished with a season-high 16 hits in the win.
Baker had two hits to pace Asbury in the loss.
McDonald suffered just his second loss in seven decisions, allowing 12 hits and five runs over 6-1/3 innings.
The two teams will complete their weekend series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.