Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
MORAGA, Calif. –Feb. 17 – Southern Utah first baseman Bryson Kenolio hit an RBI single to break a scoreless tie in the ninth inning at Saint Mary’s on Sunday, but the Gaels battled back with a game-tying homerun in the bottom of the frame and then added a walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning for the 2-1 victory.
The Gaels had a chance for an early score after Donald Collins drew a walk to load the bases in the bottom of the second with just one out. Karlik then recorded a strikeout for the second out before giving up a single to Cole Norton. Collins was called for runner interference at first however for the third out of the inning to end the scoring threat.
Southern Utah had a chance to put a run on the board after freshman Kevin Kline led off the seventh inning with a double to left center, but Saint Mary’s reliever Patrick Keane recorded three straight outs to maintain the scoreless deadlock.
Taylor Shaw drew a two out walk in the top of the ninth to give SUU a baserunner. Justin Neuhart then singled up the middle, advancing Shaw the second. Shaw would then come around to score as Bryson Kenolio hit an RBI single into left field for the go ahead run as the Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead.
SUU reliever Matt Nelson retired the first two Gaels he faced in the bottom of the ninth, inducing a fly ball to left center and a ground ball to the shortstop. Freshman Collin Ferguson then stepped to the plate to pinch-hit for SMC. The left-handed infielder was able to drive a ball over the wall in right center for a game-tying home run with the score level at 1-1 after nine innings of play.
The Thunderbirds had a chance to reclaim the lead in the top of the 10th after David Ricker was hit by a pitch and then reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Tariq Staton. Following a Marcus Romero walk, SUU had runners on first and second with just one out. Bo Cuthbertson then drove a ball to right field to advance the runners, but Ricker was tagged out at home as he came around from second for the second out. Mitchell Kauweloa then hit into a fielder’s choice to end the frame.
In the bottom of the inning Saint Mary’s put runners on the corners with two outs. Senior infielder Chris Murphy was then able to get the ball on the ground for a bunt single that scored Patrick Wisdom from third to secure the 2-1 victory for the Gaels.
Senior right-hander Joseph Karlik struck out four over six scoreless innings in his first start for Thunderbirds, while freshman pitcher Matt Nelson gave up two runs in three and two-thirds to take the loss for SUU who falls to 0-3 on the year. Jesse Hartle also appeared on the mound, walking two batters in the seventh.
The Gaels take the series sweep to start the year at 3-0 after getting eight scoreless innings from Kurt Jahnke and Patrick Keane. Junior reliever Thomas Cortese picks up the win for the Gaels in his first appearance of the season. Jordan Mills was the only SMC pitcher to give up a run in the game, Southern Utah’s lone RBI off the bat of Kenolio in the ninth inning.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the road next week as they look to regroup at the University of Texas-Pan American. SUU will open its series with the Broncos this Friday in Edinburg at 7 p.m. (MT)