NEW ALBANY, Ind. — One bad inning and one controversial call turned out to be too much for the University of Rio Grande baseball team to overcome.
Indiana University Southeast erased an early deficit by scoring four times in the second inning and then threw out the would-be tying run at the plate in the eighth inning to hold on for a 4-3 win over the RedStorm, Friday night, in the River States Conference opener for both teams at the Koetter Sports Complex.
The host Grenadiers, who were ranked 11th in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll, improved their overall mark to 7-10 with the victory.
Rio Grande, which also came up empty with a ninth inning threat, slipped to 6-11 with the loss.
The RedStorm grabbed an early 2-0 lead thanks to a run-scoring single by senior Jesse Watson (Las Cruces, NM) in the first inning and a second inning IUS error, but the Grenadiers roared to life in the home second with four runs against Rio junior starter Cody Gabriel (Upper Sandusky, OH).
Marco Romero led off with a single, Jacob Scott followed with a double and Austin Wise hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Tyler Mills reached on a bunt single with Scott advancing to third and, one out later, Clay Woeste singled to center to tie things up.
A double steal put two runners in scoring position, a walk to Santrel Farmer loaded the bases and Matt Monahan followed with a two-run double to right. Farmer was gunned down at the plate trying to score on the same play, ending the inning and keeping the deficit at 4-2.
Rio Grande sliced the deficit in half in the sixth inning when sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) reached on a leadoff error, stole second, advanced to third on a balk and scored on a groundout by freshman Trey Carter (Wheelersburg, OH).
The RedStorm also threatened in each of their final two turns at the dish, but came away empty-handed both times.
In the eighth, senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) led off with a double and senior Kent Reeser (Miamisburg, OH) beat out a bunt for a base hit with Cluxton moving to third. Reeser was then picked off of first and, after Surrell was hit by a pitch, Watson flied out to left. Cluxton was called out at the plate trying to score on the Watson flyball — although it appeared that his hand crossed the plate before he was tagged — and the Grenadiers maintained their lead.
In the top of the ninth, freshmen Darius Jordan (Minford, OH) and Josh Wolfe (Hillsboro, OH) had consecutive one-out singles, but the threat — and the game ended — when junior pinch-hitter Billy Cooper (Jackson, OH) struck out and freshman pinch-hitter Zach Price (Delaware, OH) grounded to shortstop for a force out.
Gabriel suffered his third loss in four decisions, allowing six hits, three walks and the four runs over five-plus innings. Senior Trey Meade (Seaman, OH) tossed three innings of two-hit, scoreless relief.
Cade Reynolds started and got the win for the Grenadiers, allowing seven hits and a walk over six innings. Trevor Reynolds pitched the last three innings and survived the two late Rio threats for a save.
Cluxton, Reeser and senior Juan Familia (Reading, PA) all had two hits in a losing cause for the RedStorm. Familia’s hits included a triple.
Woeste, Monahan and Scott had two hits each for IUS. Both of Scott’s hits were doubles.
The two teams will conclude the weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.