CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Second-seeded Asbury University scored three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to rally past No. 5 seed University of Rio Grande, 5-4, in the opening round of the 2021 River States Conference Baseball Championship, Thursday afternoon, at VA Memorial Stadium.
The Eagles improved to 37-10 with the victory and will face third-seeded Point Park University — a 3-1 victor over Indiana University Kokomo — in winner’s bracket action on Friday at 7 p.m.
Rio Grande (19-33) will battle No. 6 seed Midway University (12-29) in an elimination game on Friday at 11 a.m. The Eagles lost to top-seeded Indiana University Southeast, 14-5, in Thursday’s first game.
Rio jumped to 4-0 lead on Thursday, scoring twice in both the third and fifth innings.
Senior Kent Reeser (Miamisburg, OH) had a run-scoring double and sophomore Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH) had a sacrifice fly in the two-run third, while Reeser had an RBI single and senior Jesse Watson (Las Cruces, NM) plated another run with a two-out single in the fifth.
Asbury started the road back in the home sixth with a two-out, two-run double by Colton Back and finished the come-from-behind effort with the three eighth inning markers.
Garrett McIntire began the rally with an infield single to third and moved to second when CJ Compton reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to third.
Another fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop off the bat of Trevor Campbell left runners at the corner, before consecutive RBI singles by Walker Paris and Back tied the game.
The go-ahead run also scored as part of Back’s hit, thanks to a pair of errors by the RedStorm — their only miscues of the contest.
Junior Billy Cooper (Jackson, OH) led off the Rio ninth with a single and was replaced by freshman courtesy runner Darius Jordan (Minford, OH), who was promptly thrown out trying to steal second base.
Freshman pinch-hitter Trey Carter (Wheelersburg, OH) lined out to first and senior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH) flied to center to end the game.
Will McDonald started and went the distance to get the win for the Eagles, his ninth in 11 decisions.
Graduate senior Zach Kendall (Troy, OH) started and took the loss for Rio Grande, allowing eight hits and five runs — four earned — over 7-1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out six.
Reeser finished 3-for-4 for the RedStorm, while Cluxton had a pair of doubles and Cooper went 2-for-4.
Paris had three hits in the Eagles’ winning effort, while McIntire and Back both had two hits each.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.