FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 7, 2018) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy baseball team split a doubleheader against Saint John's (Minn.) on Wednesday down at the Cusic Classic in Florida. The Mariners' record moves to 4-1, while the Johnnies, who suffered their first loss of the year, move to 5-1.
Backed by a pair of grand slams by sophomore Joey Stock, SJU won the first game by the final score of 12-5. The Mariners were two outs away from suffering a second-straight loss to the Johnnies in the second game – and actually trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the seventh – but they scored three runs to tie the score and won it on a walk-off sacrifice fly by senior Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.).
USMMA scored the first two runs of the opening game in the top of the first inning, as they cashed in on two Saint John's errors to score a pair of unearned runs. Junior Jesse Reinebold (Granger, Ind.) came across the plate first after scoring on an error and Tyler Mowry (Peachtree City, Ga.) followed that with an RBI single that scored Barnes. However, Stock's first grand slam came in the bottom half of the inning to give the Johnnies a 4-2 lead.
The Mariners had a great chance to take a lead in the top of the third, as they loaded the bases with no outs, but an RBI walk by junior Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.) that plated Reinebold was followed by three straight outs (two strikeouts and a fly out) and SJU escaped with limited damage and still led, 4-3.
Stock hit his second grand slam in the bottom of the fifth and the Johnnies added four more runs in the sixth to take a 12-3 lead. Merchant Marine scored two more runs in the top of the seventh on a two-RBI double by Cunningham that scored Barnes and senior Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.), but that was all the offense the Mariners could muster.
Cunningham finished the game going 1-for-3 with a team-best three RBIs. Freshman starter Joaquin Munoz (Lubbock, Texas) suffered the loss after allowing four runs on three hits in 4.0 innings with five strikeouts. For the Johnnies, junior Tommy Auger earned a complete game victory, allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits with eight Ks.
In the second game, both teams had just two hits through the scoreless first four innings of the game. Saint John's got on the board first with a run in the top of the fifth and added two more runs in the top of the seventh to lead 3-0 with just three defensive outs to get to earn a doubleheader sweep.
However, USMMA got three-straight singles by Cunningham, freshman Alex Mesaros (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and classmate Vincenzo Alteri (Watertown, N.Y.) to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. Mowry came in to pinch hit and got an RBI single that plated Cunningham. Junior Zack Winzer (Muskegon, Mich.) then pinch ran for Mowry at first and would prove to be the winning run as back-to-back RBI walks by senior Jacob Sithong (Orlando, Fla.) and Reinebold set the table for Barnes' game-winning sacrifice fly.
Freshman Quinton Heck (Massillon, Ohio) earned the victory for the Mariners, as he tossed the entire game and allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts. The first game hero for the Johnnies, Joey Stock, started the second game and lasted into the seventh inning, allowing three runs on six hits (three of which coming in the seventh inning) and striking out three. Senior Ben Etzell suffered the loss after walking two and allowing one run, the game-winning run, on one hit, with one K.
Up next, the Mariners will face Pitt.-Bradford this Friday, March 9, in a single, nine-inning game beginning at 12-noon at Terry Park Field #3 in Fort Myers, Fla. Live stats for the game will be available at this link.
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