Rio sweeps DH, series from Trailblazers

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Strong pitching performances by Osvaldo Duran and Collin Powers – along with timely hitting by David Rodriguez – propelled the University of Rio Grande to a doubleheader sweep of Ohio Christian University, Saturday afternoon, in River States Conference baseball action at sun-splashed Bob Evans Field.

The RedStorm took the opening game, 5-1, before rallying to post a 3-2 eight-inning win in the nightcap.

Rio Grande improved to 8-13 overall and 3-0 in the RSC by completing a sweep of the weekend series. The RedStorm have now won four straight on the heels of an eight-game losing slide.

Ohio Christian slipped to 2-12 overall and 0-3 in conference play.

Duran, a senior right-hander from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, was the star of game one after scattering five hits and allowing one run over eight innings for his third win in five decisions.

Duran walked just two and fanned a career-high 11 batters.

Rio Grande took a 2-0 lead after three innings thanks to a sacrifice fly by junior Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) in the second inning and the first home run in the collegiate career of senior Juan Cruz (Juana Diaz, P.R.) in the third.

Ohio Christian got one of the runs back in the fourth when Eric McClure led off with a double, moved to third on single by Logan Hill and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Anderson, but the RedStorm got that marker back – plus one – in the home fourth.

Cruz had a sacrifice fly and senior Cody Blackburn (Amanda, OH) had a run-scoring single in the frame.

Rio scored its final run in its final at bat when Blackburn reached on a two-out eight inning walk, sophomore Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) singled to center and junior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) followed with an RBI single.

Shockley, sophomore Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) and senior Ty Warnimont (Rio Grande, OH) all had two hits in the winning effort.

Tanner Popp started and took the loss for Ohio Christian.

Game two was a pitcher’s duel between Powers – a senior right-hander from Janesville, WI – and OCU starter Brandon Focarett.

Powers surrendered an unearned run in the first inning thanks to a two-out error and gave up a two-out RBI single to Hayden Hufford in the sixth inning which gave the Trailblazers a 2-0 lead.

Focarett blanked the RedStorm through the first five innings of the scheduled seven-inning nightcap before the hosts knotted the score in the bottom of the sixth.

Blackburn singled to right with one out and Shockley followed with a double to right-center, which moved junior pinch-runner Zac Morris to third base. David Rodriguez followed with a two-run single to right-center to tie the game.

OCU threatened to take the lead back by loading the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, but the Trailblazers failed to score.

Eric Rinehart doubled with two outs, prompting the removal of Powers in favor of junior Dalton Wilburn (Asheville, OH). The right-hander promptly issued consecutive four-pitch walks to load the bases before striking out McClure to end the threat.

Rio won the game in the home eighth when Blackburn reached on a one-out walk, took second on a passed ball and scored on a two-out single to right by David Rodriguez.

Rodriguez finished 3-for-4 with the three RBI in the win. Powers allowed just four hits and one earned run while walking two and fanning seven of 6-2/3 innings, but it was Wilburn who got the win in relief – his third in four decisions.

Rinehart had three of the Trailblazers’ four hits in the loss. Focarett scattered six hits and allowed the two runs over 5-1/3 innings, while Logan Hill suffered the loss in relief for OCU.

Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Wednesday afternoon, weather permitting, when 20th-ranked Campbellsville University visits for a doubleheader.

First pitch for the opener is set for 1 p.m.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.