FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 11, 2016) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team lost a single, nine-inning game to Wabash, 6-5, on Friday morning in its fourth day of action down at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Florida. The Mariners fall to 1-5 on the young season after their fourth one-run defeat of the trip, while the Little Giants improve to 4-7.
Freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.) drove in three of the Mariners five runs in the contest, as he was 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the fifth and a two-run triple in the sixth. Senior Quinn Fleming (Ashburn, Va.) scored on both of Vitella's hits as he drew two walks on the day.
Wabash jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the first three innings with two runs in the second on an RBI double by sophomore Taylor Canter, followed by three runs in the third on an RBI double by sophomore Cole Harlacher, an RBI single by senior KJ Zelenika and another RBI hit by Canter.
The Mariners got on the board in the fifth with Vitella's double that scored Fleming from second.
The Little Giants got the run back in the next half-inning, however, as freshman Jared Wolfe knocked an RBI single off of USMMA reliever Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.).
Merchant Marine rallied in the bottom of the sixth with three more runs to cut the deficit to 6-4. Ball four of a walk drawn by Fleming got away from the Wabash catcher and sophomore Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.) scored from third. Vitella knocked Fleming and junior Richard Kernan (Blythewood, S.C.) in with a triple and then was stranded at third base as the inning ended two batters later.
After a quick inning of work in the top of the seventh by Cunningham, the Mariners tacked on one more run in the bottom half. With runners on the corner, they took advantage of a costly throwing error by the Wabash catcher on a throw as freshman Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) stole second, and classmate Zack Winzer (Muskegon, Mich.) scored from third as the ball sailed into the outfield.
The Mariners threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the ninth. Sophomore Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Winzer. After Reinebold followed with a walk, the Little Giants changed pitchers and the first batter sophomore Cody Cochran faced lined into a double play to end the game.
Senior Kyle Clausen (Southold, N.Y.) got the start for the Mariners and hurled three innings, giving up five runs on seven hits to suffer the loss. Cunningham tossed 5.1 innings and allowed just one run on seven hits with two strikeouts. Senior Brad Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) came in in the ninth for the last two outs and didn't allow a baserunner.
Canter finished the day 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Little Giants. Sophomore starter Tyler Cooper earned the victory after going 5.2 innings and allowing four runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Cochrane earned the save after getting the last two outs of the game on the double play.
The Mariners return to action on Saturday morning, when they take on Gettysburg in a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m.
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