BLUEFIELD, Va. — Marcus Espinal’s one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth lifted Bluefield College to a 4-3 game two victory and a doubleheader sweep of the University of Rio Grande, Tuesday afternoon, in non-conference baseball action at Bowen Field.
The host Rams posted a 5-1 triumph in the opening game and improved to 8-1 with the sweep of the twinbill.
Rio Grande dropped to 8-7 with the losses.
Espinal’s sacrifice fly rescued the Rams, who had blown an early 2-0 lead.
Jordan Huntley opened the home ninth by drawing a walk from sophomore reliever Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH), the last of three pitchers in the nightcap for the RedStorm. He was forced out moments later on Carlos Torres’ fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop, but Ozzie Millet’s triple to left plated Torres with the tying run.
Leyan Napoleon and Edgardo Bernard were issued consecutive intentional walks to load the bases and set up a force play, but Espinal followed with a flyball that was deep enough to right field for Millet to tag up and race home with the game-winning marker.
Bluefield led 2-0 after two innings, scoring once in each of the first two frames.
Huntley led off the home first with a double, took third on a flyout to right and then scored when Millet’s grounder to shortstop was booted for an error.
The second inning run scored on a one-out walk to Joseph Cardona and back-to-back two-out singles by Andy Pena and Huntley.
Rio Grande tied the game in the fourth inning when freshman Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) tripled and senior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) followed with a two-run home run to right.
That’s how things stayed until a two-out, run-scoring double in the top of the ninth by Rio junior Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) gave the RedStorm a 3-2 advantage and set up the dramatic finish in the bottom half of the inning.
Fetzer took the loss, allowing the two runs – along with two hits and four walks – over 3-2/3 innings. He also struck out six.
Justin Coleman, the final of four hurlers for the Rams, was the winning pitcher. He allowed six hits and one run over three innings.
Rio Grande out-hit Bluefield, 13-7, in game two.
Surrell, Rodriguez, junior Eli Daniels (Minford, OH), junior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) and junior Walter Baker III (Louisville, KY) all had two hits for the RedStorm. cluxton’s total included a double.
Huntley and Millet had two hits each for the Rams.
In the opening game, Rio Grande took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out home run by Rodriguez, but Bluefield responded by doing all of its damage in the home half of the second.
Napoleon led off with a triple and, after an infield hit by Bernard, rode home on a wild pitch by Rio senior starter Pierce Knisely (Chillicothe, OH) to knot the score at 1-1.
Espinal followed with a run-scoring single to give the Rams the lead and, two outs later, Pena drew a walk to keep the inning alive.
Espinal and Pena both scored moments later on an inside-the-park home run by Huntley to make it 5-1.
Rio Grande managed just three hits off of Bluefield starter Alex Perkins after the Rodriguez homer in the first.
Justin Coleman pitched the seventh for the Rams, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Freshman Cole Dyer (Wheelersburg, OH) had two of Rio’s five hits in the loss, while Shockley had a double.
Knisley took the loss, allowing seven hits and the five runs over four innings. He walked two and fanned four.
Huntley finished 2-for-3 in the win for BC.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Friday when it hosts Fisher (Mass.) College in a doubleheader at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.
First pitch for the opening game is set for noon.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.