ELON, N.C. – The UMBC baseball team pounded out a season-best 15 hits, led by sophomore shortstop Kevin Lachance (Clifton, Va./Centreville) who went 3-for-4, but Elon rallied for three runs in both the sixth and eighth innings to defeat the Retrievers, 8-7, Monday afternoon at Latham Park.
Lachance led a UMBC (1-6) attack which recorded season-highs in hits (15) and runs (7), but it was not enough as Elon (11-5) cashed in on late opportunities to earn the come-from-behind-victory.
Grant Fisher (1-0) earned the win for Elon by helping the Phoenix avoid damage in the eighth and Ryan Pennell recorded his fourth save of the season by pitching the ninth.
Junior Jonny Dierks (Easton, Md./Independence/Fort Scott CC) suffered the loss for the Retrievers. The right-hander (0-1) gave up four runs, three of them earned, on four hits.
UMBC struck first, putting together a two-out rally in the top of the first keyed by a double down the third base line by Lachance. Junior Jake Barnes (Annandale, Va./Annandale) then drew a walk to extend the inning and junior first baseman Anthony Gatto (Hauppauge, N.Y./Smithtown West) made the most of the chance for the Retrievers by sending a single back up the box to plate Lachance.
Elon answered in the bottom half against UMBC starter Michael Gomez (Nutley, N.J./Don Bosco Prep), scoring twice as Casey Jones and Danny Lynch connected for RBI singles. Gomez pitched 5.1 innings, surrendering four runs on six hits, while striking out two and walking one. He was in line for the win until Elon rallied in the eighth inning.
The Phoenix lead did not last long, however, as the Retrievers retook the lead in their next at-bats. Sophomore Mark Esposito (Bethany, Conn./Amity Regional) opened the inning with a single to left but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of junior Ryan Sliwak (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh/Nassau CC). Sliwak advanced to second as the next batter, sophomore Nick Naumann (Essex, Md./John Carroll/Chestnut Hill College), laced a single to center. A ground out to third by freshman Andrew Casali (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) advanced both runners, and then Sliwak scored on a wild pitch. Junior Vince Corbi (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) then drove a single up the middle to plate Naumann from third.
Gomez held the Phoenix off the board in the next four frames and his offense backed him up.
In the top of the fourth, UMBC plated three, increasing its lead to 6-2. Lachance, Barnes, and Gatto each contributed RBI singles in the frame, but the Retrievers left the bases loaded.
Two innings later, the Retriever attack added to its lead as Sliwak smacked a double to left-center on a 2-0 pitch, chasing home Esposito who had been hit-by-pitch for a 7-2 lead.
Elon pushed back in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs to climb within two, 7-5, and chasing Gomez. Dierks limited the damage in the inning after entering in relief and then worked around a one-out walk to keep the Phoenix off the board in the seventh.
The Retrievers wasted a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the top of the seventh, and then were held off the board in the eighth as Esposito was cut down at the plate trying to score.
The Phoenix took the opportunity in the bottom half of the frame, rallying for three more runs, the last of which came on a bases-loaded walk, to take the lead, 8-7. Ryan Cooper, who slapped an RBI double down the right field line to cut the lead to 7-6, went 2-for-4 on the day with two RBI.
In the top of the ninth, UMBC made an effort to retake the lead as Casali led off with a single and two batters later, Lachance drew a five-pitch walk. The runners advanced on a grounder to second, but were stranded on second and third to close the game.
UMBC now returns to Maryland to take on Navy mid-week and then open America East play by hosting Albany over the weekend.
- Elon also defeated UMBC over the weekend, 3-1, at the Chanticleer Classic at Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Prior to this weekend, the two squads had never met on the diamond.
- Lachance now has two 3-hit games this season.