JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — There’s an oft-paraphrased Biblical proverb that says “He Who Lives by the Sword, Dies by the Sword”.
For the University of Rio Grande baseball team, the phrase provided the perfect summation for Friday’s final day of action of Milligan University’s “Clash of the Conferences”.
The RedStorm mounted a late come-from-behind rally to defeat Thomas More (Ky.) University in their opening contest, before succumbing to a late rally by the host school in the final game of the two-day event at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Rio Grande finished the weekend at 3-5 after posting an 8-7 win over the Saints and dropping a 4-2 decision to the Buffaloes.
The RedStorm trailed 6-1 after 2-1/2 innings against Thomas More, but rallied for three runs in the home third, another run in the fifth and three more markers in the sixth to take an 8-6 lead.
The Saints scored once in the seventh inning and had the would-be tying run at third base, but Rio held on to get the final two outs and preserve the victory.
Senior Jon Erhard (Newark, OH) had two hits and drove in three runs to lead the RedStorm’s offensive effort, while senior Jesse Watson (Las Cruces, NM) had two hits — including a double — and a run batted in. Senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) also finished 2-for-4 in the win, while sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH), freshman Albert Bobadilla (Bronx, NY) and junior Billy Cooper (Jackson, OH) all drove in one run each.
Freshman Zach Price (Delaware, OH) tossed 2-1/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win, while Surrell worked out of the seventh inning scrape to earn a save.
Brady Baldock went 3-for-4 with a triple and a double in the loss for TMU, while Bailey Martin went 3-for-4, Brett Berzinger had two hits and Gavin Pearson finished with a triple and two RBI.
Ty Grimes suffered the loss in relief for the Saints.
In game two, Rio Grande erased a 1-0 first inning deficit with single runs in both the third and fourth frames, but Milligan rallied in the fifth inning with a two-out, three-run home run to take the lead for good.
Cluxton and freshman Trey Carter (Wheelersburg, OH) had two hits each in the loss for the RedStorm, while senior Juan Familia (Reading, PA) drove in a run.
Senior Trey Meade (Seaman, OH) started and took the loss for Rio, allowing eight hits and all four runs over 4-2/3 innings.
Braden Spano finished 2-for-3 and drove in all four runs for Milligan, including the go-ahead three-run homer.
Anthony Guzman had three hits for the Buffaloes, while Justin Greene added a triple in the winning effort.
Graham Hooker picked up the win in relief, while Brian Baxa retired the side in order in the seventh inning — including two by strikeout — to earn a save.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action next Friday and Saturday with a pair of doubleheaders at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.