FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 9, 2016) – On Wednesday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team continued action in the 2016 Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic down in Florida with a doubleheader against Elms College. The Mariners were edged by the Blazers, 3-2, in the first game, before falling by the final score of 5-1 in the second of the twin-bill. In defeat, the Mariners fall to 1-4 overall on the season, while Elms wins their sixth and seventh straight games to improve to 7-1.
The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead quickly in the opener, scoring on an RBI groundout by sophomore Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.) followed by a sacrifice fly by freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.) in the bottom of the first inning. The Blazers responded with a run off of junior starter Nathan Slusarczyk (Woodbury, N.J.) in the top of the second to cut their deficit in half.
The next few innings flew as only a combined five runners reached base – three for the Mariners and two for Elms – but the innings ended quickly after. Elms tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the sixth after taking advantage of a costly USMMA error. The Blazers took their first lead of the game in the final inning on an RBI fielder's choice that made the score 3-2.
The Mariners threatened in the bottom of the seventh and nearly tied the game twice, but on two consecutive plays they had a runner thrown out at home plate, including the game-ending out.
Slusarczyk hurled 6.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on 10 hits with four strikeouts. Senior Jeff Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) replaced him for the final out of the seventh inning, a strikeout.
Elms senior Brian Langdon earned the victory after pitching a scoreless final 2.2 innings, allowing four Mariner hits and striking out four.
The second game was another quick one, as the two teams only had eight baserunners combined through the first four innings and none got past second base. The Mariners had the first real threat of the game with bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth, but a double play ended the inning.
After a 1-2-3 top of bottom of the fifth by sophomore starter Justus Martin (Eaton, Colo.), Merchant Marine got on the board first with an RBI single by junior Richard Kernan (Blythewood ,S.C.) that plated sophomore Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.).
Elms responded with five runs in the bottom of the sixth, however, to break open their 5-1 lead. The Mariners had two runners reach base in the top of the seventh, but were unable to have them come across, as the Blazers held on for the victory.
Martin suffered the loss after tossing 5.1 innings and allowing three runs on four hits while fanning two. He was replaced by Suciu, who gave up two runs (none earned) on two hits.
Elms senior Andrew Sadowski pitched the complete game win for the Blazers, allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts.
The Mariners return to action on Friday morning, March 11, when they take on Wabash College in a single game beginning at 9 a.m. A live video feed of the game will be available courtesy of Wabash Sports Information and can be accessed by following this link.
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