Baseball avoids sweep with strong offensive outing against Towson
The Hofstra men’s baseball team defeated Towson University in the finale of their Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) three-game series on Sunday, April 14, with a score of 12-6.
Austin Pollack and Anthony D’Onofrio led the Pride offensively with a combined seven RBIs, including Pollack’s three-run go-ahead home run in the sixth inning.
Sunday’s matchup was a rollercoaster of a game, filled with controversial calls, flaring tempers and clutch hitting and pitching from both sides. To say both teams were determined to win would be an understatement.
Emotions ran high throughout the game with both teams jawing back and forth with home plate umpire Ryan Benson on a number of calls, including one that left Towson unhappy as a fly ball was ruled a catch even though it appeared to fall out of Hofstra center fielder Pollack’s glove.
Vito Friscia was nearly ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes after striking out in the fifth inning.
Hofstra totaled 12 hits in the game with all but one player in the lineup recording at least one hit. The six through nine spots in the lineup stepped up and combined to go 7 for 14 with seven RBIs.
Towson, looking to sweep the Pride after winning the first two games in the series, were quick to jump out ahead first for the third straight game, scoring in the first inning after Zach Piazza doubled to bring in Dirk Masters, who walked earlier in the inning.
The Tigers added another run the next inning when Trent Gast-Woodard’s sacrifice fly extended the Towson lead to 2-0.
The Pride answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Gauthier led off with a walk before a Jimmy Joyce single and a Ryan Morash walk loaded the bases. Gauthier then scored on an RBI single from junior Tyler White.
Two batters later, Friscia’s walk with the bases loaded tied up the score, but Hofstra was unable to do more than that in the inning.
Neither team’s starting pitchers would last long with Hofstra’s Michael James and Towson’s Oluwasayo Kintunde unable to go past the second inning.
Hofstra senior Andrew Mundy replaced James in the third inning and ultimately ended up receiving the win, contributing four innings of relief, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out three while only walking one. Jake Pecilunas came in for the Tigers.
Towson regained the lead in the fifth inning when Tigers center fielder Javon Fields tripled off the center-field wall and ended up coming around to score on the play, as Pollack was unable to cleanly pick up the ball allowing for an unearned run.
The Tigers added two more runs in the inning from Piazza’s second RBI double of the game and Noah Cabrera’s sacrifice ground-out.
Towson’s Pecilunas retired the first 11 batters he faced after entering in the second inning, but Hofstra began to turn things around, finally getting to the sophomore in the sixth inning.
D’Onofrio chased Pecilunas out of the game following an RBI double down the left-field line. Pecilunas’ replacement, Joe Enea would not fare much better, walking Jimmy Joyce who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Morash then singled, scoring D’Onofrio.
Towson then brought in John Cranston who retired the first batter before Pollack sent his 0-1 pitch deep over the left-field wall, giving Hofstra a 7-5 lead and extending Pollack’s hitting streak to five games.
Isaiah Winikur brought Towson within one after an RBI double in the top of the seventh before getting into it with Friscia after a slide at home plate at the end of the inning. Both players got involved in a small shoving match with both benches clearing, coming to defend their teammates.
“At that point it was a one run game, there was contact, it was just a really weird play. I think Towson was into it all weekend, they were smelling a sweep. I think right there we got back into it and I’m really happy nothing escalated,” said Hofstra head coach John Russo.
The Pride responded with five more runs in the bottom of the seventh. D’Onofrio drove in his second and third runs of the game with a single up the middle before scoring later on a wild pitch. Morash capped it off with his second RBI hit of the day.
“I’m just trying to stick with the plan. I’ve been getting a lot of breaking balls. [I’m] trying to sit on pitches and drive them,” D’Onofrio said who tied his season high from two days earlier with three RBIs.
Daniel Page earned his second save of the season coming in during the seventh inning, allowing the one run before pitching scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
The win brings Hofstra’s record to 7-24 (2-4 CAA) and drops Towson to 7-27 (3-6 CAA). The Pride will next take the field Wednesday, April 17, at 3 p.m. as they travel for a non-conference road game against Rutgers University.
Image Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics