BUTLER, Pa. — AJ Thomas and Austin Kendall both had two-run hits to help the University of Rio Grande erase an early deficit and go on to an eventual 9-2 game on win over Point Park University, Sunday afternoon, in River States Conference baseball action at Pullman Park.
The victory gave the RedStorm a series win, but the host Pioneers avoided an improbable sweep by rallying for a 4-3 extra innings win in the nightcap.
Rio Grande finished the weekend at 23-29 overall and 10-11 in conference play, securing a berth in the upcoming RSC Tournament in the process.
Point Park, which was receiving votes in the most recent NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, closed the day at 30-11 overall and 16-5 against conference foes.
The Pioneers pushed across a run in the second inning of the opener to take a 1-0 lead, but Rio countered with a two-run single by Thomas — a junior from Pickerington, Ohio — in the third inning and a two-run double by Kendall — a sophomore from Troy, Ohio — in the fourth inning to take a lead it would never relinquish.
Sophomore Darius Jordan (Minford, OH) drew a bases-loaded walk in a three-run seventh for the RedStorm, while adding an RBI single in a two-run eighth inning.
Sophomore Trey Carter (Wheelersburg, OH) had a run-scoring single and freshman Alex Scoular (Whitby, Ontario, Canada) added a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning for Rio Grande, while junior Gavin Lovesky (Willowbrook, IL) had a sacrifice fly of his own in the eighth inning.
Carter finished 3-for-5 in the win, while Thomas, Jordan, junior Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) and sophomore Jakob Johnson (Pickerington, OH) all had two hits. Scoular also had a double.
Surrell also picked up the win on the mound, allowing seven hits and an unearned run over 6-1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Jonathan Pacheco started and took the loss for Point Park, allowing nine hits and four runs over 5-2/3 innings.
Carlos Sanchez went 3-for-4 with a double and a run batted in for the Pioneers, while Ed Pfluger had two hits and Jared Campbell and Jordon Campbell both doubled.
In game two, Rio Grande was twice within three outs of win before watching the hosts mount a pair of rallies.
The RedStorm took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Jared Campbell hit a two-out, game-tying home run to force extra innings.
Rio pushed across an unearned run in the top of the eighth, but the Pioneers got an RBI triple from Jordon Campbell to tie the game and won it on a one-out grounder to first by Luis Hernandez.
Freshman Brady Conley (Westerville, OH) had a pair of doubles and Johnson drove in a run in a losing cause for the RedStorm.
Sophomore Victor Tyo (Grove City, OH) suffered his fourth loss in as many decisions in relief, surrendering the seventh inning homer and both runs in the eighth inning.
Leo Diaz got the win in relief for Point Park, allowing an unearned run over 1-2/3 innings.
Sanchez finished 3-for-4 in the winning effort.
Rio Grande is slated to complete its regular season schedule with a three-game series against West Virginia University-Tech beginning Friday at Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.