The University of Rio Grande parlayed strong pitching performances by Zach Harvey and Osvaldo Duran and a pair of two-RBI performances by David Rodriguez into a doubleheader sweep of West Virginia University-Tech last Friday afternoon in River States Conference baseball play at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
The RedStorm won the nine-inning opener 5-2, while cruising to a 6-0 win in the seven-inning nightcap.
Rio Grande improved to 14-16 overall and 8-3 in the RSC with the victories.
WVU Tech fell to 6-22 overall and 2-9 in league play with the losses.
Harvey, a junior right-hander from Kenova, W.Va., allowed four hits and an unearned run over seven innings in the opener. He walked one and struck out five.
Duran, a senior right-hander from Guayanilla, P.R., allowed five hits, walked one and fanned nine in a complete game shutout of the seven-inning nightcap.
Rodriguez, a junior from Santo Domingo, D.R., snapped a scoreless tie in the opener with a two-run fourth inning home run.
The RedStorm later added two runs in the fifth and one marker in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead, before Tech countered with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to set the final score.
Sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) made his collegiate pitching debut in the eighth inning, helping disable Tech’s bases-loaded, no-out rally by allowing only one run to score.
He also worked a scoreless ninth to record a save.
Shockley and sophomore Caden Cluxton had two hits each in the win for Rio. Shockley’s hits included a double and Cluxton drove in a run.
Wyatt Belinda had a triple in a losing cause for Tech, while Michael Rotenberry started and took the loss for the Golden Bears.
In the nightcap, Rio scored a single run in all but one of its seven at bats.
Rodriguez homered and doubled in the win, while sophomore Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) had two hits – including a double – and drove in a run.
Shockley added a pair of doubles to the winning effort.
Belinda had two of Tech’s five hits, while Brett Linton started and took the loss for the Golden Bears.
Sunday, March 25 — West Virginia Tech 5, Rio Grande 4
For seven innings, Sunday afternoon’s River States Conference baseball tilt between the University of Rio Grande and West Virginia University-Tech was a classic pitcher’s duel.
However, the final two innings turned into a matter of whose bullpen could hang on and, when all was said and done, the visiting Golden Bears emerged victorious.
Wyatt Belinda, the last of three Tech pitchers, cooled one last RedStorm comeback attempt by stranding the would-be tying and winning runs on base in a 5-4 win at chilly Bob Evans Field.
WVU Tech avoided being swept in the weekend series, improving to 7-22 overall and 3-9 in conference play with the victory.
Rio Grande slipped to 14-17 overall and 8-4 in the RSC with the loss – its seventh one-run setback of the season.
The RedStorm grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning thanks to an RBI single by sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH), but the Golden Bears knotted the score in the top of the fourth on a run-scoring hit by Juan Perez.
That accounted for all of the offense through the first seven innings as Rio junior right-hander Dalton Wilburn (Ashville, OH) and Tech starter Jerod Jobst proved to be stingy from the get-go.
Wilburn scattered six hits and a walk, while allowing the one run over seven innings in his best performance of the season. He also fanned a season-high eight batters.
Jobst, who entered the game winless in four decisions and sporting an earned run average of just under 10.00, was just as good. The right-hander worked into the eighth inning, allowing four hits and two runs while walking three and striking out four.
Jobst left with a lead, though, after the Golden Bears struck for a trio of unearned runs against Rio senior reliever Collin Powers (Janesville, WI) in the top of the eighth.
Sean Crosby got the rally started by reaching on a one-out error before consecutive walks to Belinda and Bryton Dean – one intentional (Belinda) and the other not – loaded the bases.
Powers struck out Daniel Torres for the second out of the inning, but Perez followed with a two-run single to right and another run scored on a passed ball to make it 4-1.
Rio Grande put runners at the corners with none out against Jobst in the home half of the frame, but Tech reliever Garrison Vandeventer induced senior Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) to bounce into a 4-6-3 double-play, with sophomore Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) scoring to pull the RedStorm within 4-2.
Singles by seniors Kameron Herring (Heath, OH) and Ty Warnimont (Rio Grande, OH) – sandwiched around a walk to junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) loaded the bases, but Vandeventer escaped any further damage by striking out junior Zac Morris (Heath, OH) to end the inning.
Tech got the run back in the top of the ninth against Rio senior Jacob Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) thanks to a hit batsman, a balk, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Calen Owens, but the RedStorm refused to go away quietly in the bottom of the frame.
Senior Juan Cruz (Juana Diaz, P.R.) was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and, one out later, stole second base. Cluxton followed with a single which moved Cruz to third and prompted Tech head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt to replace Vandeventer on the mound with Belinda, whose father, Stan, spent part of 12 major league seasons as reliever with six different teams including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.
Shockley greeted Belinda with a sacrifice fly to plate Cruz and make it 5-3, while consecutive singles by Blackburn and Herring – sandwiched around a steal of second by junior pinch-runner Matt Joyce (Minford, OH) – pulled Rio within a run.
Belinda ended the drama – and nailed down the win – moments later by retiring David Rodriguez – Rio’s RBI leader – on a hard grounder to first to leave the tying run at third and the would-be winning run at first.
Shockley, Herring and Cluxton all had two hits in the loss for Rio.
Perez had three hits, while Crosby and Dean had two hits each for WVU-Tech.
Jobst picked up the win for the Golden Bears, while Belinda earned his first save of the season.
Powers took the loss for Rio, his fifth in six decisions.
Rio Grande returns to action, weather permitting, on Tuesday afternoon when it visits NCAA Division I Northern Kentucky University in a single nine-inning contest.
First pitch is set for 3 p.m. in Highland Heights, Ky.
A live audio-only webcast of the game will be available at portal.stretchinternet.com/rio beginning at 2:50 p.m.
Live game statistics will also be available at http://sidearmstats.com/nku/baseball.