VERSAILLES, Ky. — Over the course of better than seven hours of baseball on Saturday, the University of Rio Grande coughed up a six-run lead in one game and failed to hold a seven-run advantage in another.
In the end, though, the RedStorm did manage to survive one of their two collapses and emerge with a much needed doubleheader split.
Midway University came off the mat to post a 9-8 win in the opener of the twin bill, while Rio pushed across a run in the ninth inning of the nightcap for a 10-9 win over the Eagles at Chandler Field.
The split left Rio Grande at 23-24 overall and 14-10 in the River States Conference, just one-half game behind Midway for third place in the league standings.
The Eagles finished the day at 23-20 overall and 14-9 in the RSC.
Saturday’s marathon took three hours and 15 minutes to complete the opening game, while the back end of the two-game set lasted three hours and 49 minutes.
The two teams there 686 combined pitches on the day.
In Rio’s game two victory, the RedStorm spotted their hosts a 2-0 first inning lead before scoring twice in the second, four times in the third and three more times in the fourth to take a 9-2 lead in the scheduled seven-inning series finale.
Midway rallied in the home sixth, though, scoring seven runs on just three hits to knot the score at 9-9. Rio pitching walked four batters in the inning, while a passed ball and an error also helped fuel the inning.
The game ventured into extra innings and stayed deadlocked until the RedStorm came to bat in the top of the ninth.
Freshman Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH) opened the inning with a single to center and, after each of the next two batters were retired routinely, scored on a triple by senior Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) to deep left-center.
Sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) — the last of five Rio pitchers — allowed a leadoff single to Will Broady in the bottom of the ninth before retiring the next three batters to nail down the win.
Fetzer and junior Matt Joyce (Minford, OH) both went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the winning effort, while Blackburn finished 2-for-5 and drove in three runs.
Fetzer’s hit total included the first home run of his collegiate career — a two-run blast as part of the four-run third — while Joyce and sophomore Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) each had a double.
Shockley got his second win in three decisions, allowing four hits and striking out four over 3-1/3 scoreless innings.
Broady and Danny McGuire had two hits each in the loss for Midway. McGuire and Tyler Jones drove in two runs apiece as well.
Barrett Croslin, the last of five pitchers for the Eagles, suffered the loss.
Game one saw Rio Grande strike for four runs in the first inning and two more markers in the second to take an early 6-0 lead.
The Eagles rallied for four runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead before the RedStorm tied the game on a run-scoring single by senior Juan Cruz (Juana Diaz, P.R.).
That’s how things stayed until the Midway ninth.
Matthew Olson reached on a one-out infield single and moved to second on two-out single to center by Broady before being replaced by pinch-runner Ryan Kayoda.
Francis Mejia followed with a bad hop single up the middle, which allowed Kayoda to score the winning run.
Shockley went 3-for-3 with a two-run home run to lead the RedStorm in a losing cause, while junior Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) added a two-run double in Rio’s four-run first inning.
Senior Jacob Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) took the loss in relief.
Kurt Paldino had three hits, including a double, and drove in three runs to pace Midway, while Koy Lindsey went 2-for-5 with three RBI and Croslin finished 2-for-4 with a triple and a run batted in.
Broady and Mejia also had two hits for the Eagles, with Connor Lindsay earning the win after three innings of scoreless relief.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Tuesday, weather permitting, in the final home games on the regular season schedule.
The Redstorm are supposed to be part of a three-team triple header which also involves the College of St. Joseph in Vermont and the University of Pikeville.
Rio is slated to face the College of St. Joseph at 10 a.m. and Pikeville at 4 p.m. The two visiting schools will meet in between at 1 p.m.
All three contests are scheduled for seven innings.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.