FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 7, 2016) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team scored 11 runs over the eighth and ninth innings to come back and tie arch-rival Coast Guard 13-13, but the Bears scored the game-winning run quickly in the bottom of the ninth to earn the victory in the rubber game of the three-game set.
With the loss, the Mariners fall to 1-2 on the season, while Coast Guard improves to 4-2. The Bears also earn a point in the overall standings for the chase for the 2015-16 Superintendents' Trophy and now lead the Mariners, 9-6, with five more contests still to play.
Coast Guard got on the board first in the bottom of the second taking advantage of a USMMA error, but the Mariners tied the score with a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by sophomore Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) that brought junior Richard Kernan (Blythewood, S.C.) home.
The Bears put up a four-spot in the bottom half of the fourth to grab a 5-1 lead, but Merchant Marine responded with another run in the top of the fifth when they took advantage of a Coast Guard error.
The Mariner bullpen was tacked for five runs in the bottom of the seventh, as the Bears went ahead by the score of 10-2. USMMA got all five of those runs back in the next half-inning, however, to pull back within three, 10-7, through 7.5 innings.
The first two Merchant Marine batters were hit by pitches to lead off the eighth and sophomore Alex Gambino (Haddonfield, N.J.) brought home freshman Trevor Fox (Northport, N.Y.) with a single to center to get the scoring going in the inning. Two batters later, Kernan scored from third on a wild pitch and then freshman Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) knocked home classmate Zack Winzer (Muskegon, Mich.) with a single to chase Bears' pitcher Jack Brandt.
Sophomore Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.) had the Mariners' third straight hit, a single to right that plated freshman Tyler Mowry (Peachtree City, Ga.). After sophomore Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.) had an infield single to load the bases, Fox came up for his second at bat of the inning and drew a walk before a pop-out to short ended the inning.
Coast Guard responded with three more runs in the bottom of the eighth to expand its lead to 13-7, but the Mariners wouldn't go down quietly in the top of the ninth, as they fought all the way back to tie the score with six runs in the inning.
Gambino started things off with a single, followed by a walk for Winzer. Mowry hit into a fielder's choice, but an error by the Bears' first basemen allowed the bases to be loaded with nobody out. After a strikeout, Campbell walked in the first run, scoring Gambino. Barnes came through with an RBI single next, followed by an RBI groundout by freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.) that made the score 13-10. Junior Joseph Konzen (Eau Claire, Wisc.) came up with a big knock in the next at bat, bringing in two runs with a triple to center that brought the Mariners to within one, 13-12. Kernan plated Konzen with a double to center that tied the game and then was left at third base when the final out of the inning was made.
The Bears wasted little time scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, however. Junior Timbo Duncan tripled to center to lead off the inning and then scored on a wild pitch.
Both Kernan and Campbell finished the game going 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Kernan scored twice, and Campbell scored once. Gambino went 3-for-4 on the day with an RBI and a run.
On the mound, senior Kyle Clausen (Southold, N.Y.) got the starting nod and went three innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits. He was replaced by freshman Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.), who hurled 3.1 innings and allowed five runs on three hits with two strikeouts. Senior Brad Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) suffered the loss in the ninth.
The Mariners return to action this Wednesday, March 9, when they take on Elms College in a doubleheader beginning at 9 a.m. down at the Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Myers, Fla.
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