DAYTON, Tenn. — The University of Rio Grande baseball team was hoping for at least one win in its season-opening four-game road trip to Tennessee.
After dropping a pair of tough outings on Friday afternoon to 18th-ranked University of Northwestern Ohio and to host Bryan College – which received votes in the same preseason coaches’ poll – the RedStorm was betrayed by its bullpen against the same two foes on Saturday.
UNOH rallied for six runs in the top of the seventh inning to post a 9-5 win over Rio, while Bryan pushed across three runs in the home sixth inning to rally for a 10-8 win over the RedStorm at Senter Field.
While Rio finished the weekend at 0-4, UNOH closed the weekend at 8-2 and the host Lions are 4-0.
In Saturday’s opener against UNOH, the RedStorm broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a two-run home run by senior Kameron Herring (Heath, OH), but the Racers quickly re-tied the game against Rio junior starter Zach Harvey (Huntington, WV) in the top of the seventh on a two-run, pinch-hit home run by Eddy Pimentel before adding four more runs to win going away.
Myles Miller followed the game-tying home run with a single, signaling the end of the day for Harvey and the appearance of freshman Caine Whitney (Newark, OH).
Felix Correa greeted Whitney with a single and Erich Gonzalez followed with an RBI double to make it 6-5. Junior Gomez followed with a sacrifice fly and, one out later, Jonathan Rodriguez capped the uprising with his second two-run home run of the game.
Rio Grande went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Harvey suffered the loss, allowing eight hits and six runs over six innings. The right-hander also walked two and fanned eight.
Senior Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) finished 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI for the RedStorm, while junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) had a double and junior Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) drove in a run.
Jonathan Rodriguez finished 2-for-3 with four RBI for UNOH, while Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and Jose Paulino had two hits of his own.
Caden Pratt, who came on to record the final out of the sixth inning, earned the win in relief for the Racers.
In the nightcap against Bryan, Rio Grande scored five times in the fifth inning to erase a 6-2 deficit.
The Lions tied the game in the bottom of the fifth before the RedStorm regained the lead in the top of the sixth, but Bryan pushed across three more runs in the home sixth to regain the lead for good.
Sophomore Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) and senior Ty Warnimont (Rio Grande, OH) had two hits apiece for Rio, while David Rodriguez and senior Juan Cruz (Juana Diaz, P.R.) both doubled and drove in two runs and sophomore Santiago Martinez (Gahanna, OH) added a sixth inning home run.
Freshman Yanmanuel Infante (New York, NY) – the third of five RedStorm pitchers – took the loss, allowing three runs over 1-1/3 innings.
Cody Young homered, double and drove in three runs to lead Bryan, while Trevor Behrent had two hits and an RBI and Wade Weinburger clubbed a second inning grand slam.
Fernando Garcia added a double for the Lions, while Dalton Ross earned the win in relief and Brandon Marklund picked up a save by retiring the side in order in the seventh inning.
Rio Grande returns to Tennessee next weekend for a four-game series at Milligan College. The two teams will play doubleheaders on both Friday and Saturday.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.