LANCASTER, Ohio — Kirk Yates had three hits and drove in three runs, while teammate Kevin Arroyo added two hits and four RBIs to lead the University of Rio Grande in a 16-3 mercy rule-shortened win over Ohio University-Lancaster, Tuesday evening, in non-conference baseball action at Beavers Field.
Senior Marcus Makuch (Baltimore, OH) and freshman Luis Jimenez (Salinas, Puerto Rico) also had two RBIs each for the RedStorm, who improved to 17-22 for the season.
The Cougars dropped to 7-6 with the loss.
Rio Grande scored 16 unanswered runs - four in both the fourth and sixth innings and eight in the seventh - after OU-L bolted to a 3-0 just five batters into the contest.
Drew Wollenberg reached on a one-out infield single against Rio sophomore starter Kyle Miller (Wilmington, OH) and moved to second when Ben Kerr drew a walk, setting the stage for a two-run double along the right field line by Dalton McKee. McKee was thrown out at third on the same play trying to stretch his run-scoring hit into a triple.
Luis Mejia followed with a rocket over the fence in left to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead.
But from that point on, it was all Rio Grande.
Miller, who collected his third win in seven decisions, limited OU-L to just two hits and three total baserunners over his final 5-2/3 innings of work and junior right-hander Landon Hutchison (Baltimore, OH) worked a perfect seventh inning to wrap things up.
Meanwhile, after being no-hit for 3-1/3 innings by OU-L starter Mitch Harding, the RedStorm began their comeback in the fourth.
Junior Kyle Findley (Cincinnati, OH) struck out to begin the inning, but reached base safely on a throwing error after a dropped third strike. He scored moments later after a trio of wild pitches by Harding.
Senior David Steele (Kettering, OH) then reached on a walk and, one out later, moved to third following a single by Yates - Rio’s first of the game - and a walk to Jimenez.
Harding was lifted in favor of former Rio Grande pitcher Donson Dearth, who promptly uncorked a wild pitch of his own to make it 3-2. One out later, freshman Clark Rice (Louisa, KY) was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and Arroyo followed with a single to left to score Yates and Jimenez and give Rio a 4-3 lead.
The RedStorm tacked on four more runs in the sixth - all of the unearned variety - thanks to three hits and as many Cougar errors.
Jimenez began the inning with bunt that Dearth bobbled for an error, moved to second on a bloop single to right by freshman Daryin Lewis (Circleville, OH) and scored when Dearth threw wildly past first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Rice.
Freshman Carlos Flores (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico) came on to run for Rice and immediately stole second base, setting the stage for a two-run double to right-center by Makuch, who scored himself two batters later on a single to right by Steele, extending the lead to 8-3.
Rio Grande then puts itself in position for the run-rule victory by exploding for eight runs in the seventh.
Yates, a sophomore from Chillicothe, Ohio, greeted reliever Matt Leckrone with a home run to right-center to make it 9-3. Jimenez followed with a walk and, two outs later, rode home on a home run to left field by Arroyo - the first longball in a Rio uniform for the junior transfer from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.
Makuch and Findley then drew consecutive walks and, after Leckrone was lifted in favor of Zane Campbell, Steele was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Flores drew a pinch-hit walk to force home another run and Yates added a two-run double to right-center to make it 14-3.
Jimenez closed out the scoring with a two-run double of his own to right-center.
Harding, the first of five OU-L pitchers, suffered the loss. The Cougars hurt their cause by issuing eight walks, four wild pitches, a passed ball, two hit batsmen and committing four errors.
The two teams will meet again in the RedStorm’s regular season finale - a doubleheader on April 29 at Bob Evans Field in Rio Grande.
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night when it opens a three-game Mid-South Conference series at Campbellsville University. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. EDT.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.