DAYTON, Tenn. — In terms of how you can open a new season, it’s safe to say the start of the 2020 campaign for the University of Rio Grande baseball team left a lot to be desired.
One big inning in both games of their split doubleheader on Friday spelled doom for the RedStorm, who dropped a 12-3 decision to Talladega (Ala.) College in their opener before suffering an 8-2 loss to No. 18 Bryan (Tenn.) College at Senter Field.
In game one, Talladega scored six times in the top of the fourth inning to break open a close game.
A three-run home run by Jonathan McKnight highlighted the uprising. Jorge Rodriguez and Wilkin Louis also had RBI singles in the inning for the Tornadoes.
Louis finished 3-for-4 with a double and four RBI, while Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Mason Miller also had four hits, including a double, for Talladega.
Rio Grande managed just three hits, including a two-run single in the third inning by senior Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) which pulled the RedStorm within one after an early 3-0 deficit.
Gamliel Echevarria started and got the win for the Tornadoes, while freshman Trey Carter (Wheelersburg, OH) started and took the loss for Rio.
Carter allowed 10 hits and nine runs – eight of which were earned – over 3-1/3 innings.
In the nightcap against Bryan, the host Lions scored four times in the home third inning to break a 2-2 tie and then added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth.
Daniels got the RedStorm off to a good start with a two-out first inning home run and, after Bryan pushed across single runs in each of the first two innings, he tied the game with a run-scoring single in the top of the third.
But Bryan broke things open for good in the home half of the frame.
Jacob Justice, Shawn Bracamontes and Zach Shield had consecutive RBI singles and Parker Crosby drew a bases-loaded walk to force home another marker.
In the fourth, bases-loaded walks to Destine Udombon and Crosby pushed the lead to 8-2.
Wade Weinburger finished 2-for-4 with a home run, while Shield went 2-for-4 with a run batted in and Anthony Tejeda had two hits, including a double.
Crosby finished with three RBI for Bryan, which also defeated Talladega, 2-1, earlier in the day.
Rio Grande was limited to just five hits in the loss, including three by Daniels. Sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) added a double in the loss.
Graduate senior Zach Kendall (Troy, OH) started and took the loss, allowing seven hits and six runs – five earned – over three innings.
Jacob Hallmark, the last of three Bryan hurlers, earned the win with four innings of three-hit shutout relief. He also struck out nine.
Weather permitting, Rio is scheduled to face both teams again on Saturday before making the trip back north to the Buckeye State.
The RedStorm will play Talladega at 11 a.m., with first pitch against Bryan slated for 2 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.