RIO GRANDE, Ohio — After last weekend’s trip to Georgia failed to produce a victory, the University of Rio Grande baseball team found itself in desperate need of a bounce back effort on Friday in the home opener against Siena Heights (Mich.) University.
The RedStorm rallied from an early deficit to post an opening game win and then held on to an early lead in game two for a doubleheader sweep of the Saints at chilly Bob Evans Field.
Rio scored seven unanswered runs in a 7-3 game one triumph and then survived a late rally by SHU in the rain-shortened nightcap for a 6-5 victory.
The RedStorm improved to 6-10 with the victories.
Siena Heights was playing its first games of the 2021 campaign.
The Saints grabbed a 3-0 first inning lead in the opener thanks to a two-out, three-run home run by Cole VanWasshenova, but Rio countered with an RBI single by sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) in the bottom of the inning and a run-scoring groundout by senior Juan Familia (Reading, PA) in the fourth to get the RedStorm within one.
Rio completed the comeback with four runs in the fifth inning. Surrell was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the tying run, while a sacrifice fly by senior Jesse Watson (Las Cruces, NM) put the RedStorm in front and a two-run double by senior Jon Erhard (Newark, OH) made it 6-3.
Rio tacked an insurance marker in the sixth when sophomore II-Zadod Gabriel (Toledo, OH) scored on a two-out passed ball.
Erhard finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI, while senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) added a double of his own in the winning effort.
Junior Cody Gabriel (Upper Sandusky, OH) started and got the win for the RedStorm, tossing six innings and allowing three hits, two of which came in the first inning. He also walked three and struck out four.
Brad South started and suffered the loss for SHU.
In game two, Rio Grande scored three times in the first inning, once in the second and twice more in the third to grab a 6-1 advantage.
Watson highlighted the three-run first with a two-run double, while Surrell had an RBI hit in the second and Cluxton had a run-scoring groundout in the third.
The Saints made things interesting in the fourth by parlaying four hits and a pair of Rio errors into four runs and closing the gap to 6-5.
Chris Winkleman had a two-run double in the rally, while Cameron Hammer plated another run with a hit of his own.
Sophomore Trey White (Crooksville, OH), who came on in relief of Surrell, got the final out of the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth before a persistent light rain that began two innings earlier forced the umpiring crew to call the game as official.
Watson, senior Kent Reeser (Miamisburg, OH) and freshman Austin Kendall (Troy, OH) all had two hits in the win for Rio. Kendall’s hit total also included a double.
Surrell got the win in his first start of the season, while White earned his first save.
Adam Wilding had two hits in a losing cause for SHU, while Matthew Love doubled and drove in a run.
Parker Swartz started and took the loss for the Saints, allowing six hits, four walks and four runs over two innings.
The two teams were scheduled to complete the four-game weekend series on Sunday with another doubleheader at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, but the twinbill was canceled due to rain.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.