For the first time in the 2016 season Rhode Island has a series win under their belt, though not one of the usual kind.
The Rams (4-8) lost their opener to Indiana State 8-2, but stormed back to defeat Campbell 7-6 and Davidson 13-4 in nonconference action this past weekend.
Rhode Island’s winning ways were kickstarted in the fourth inning against the Fighting Camels. Campbell picked up a run in the bottom of the third off of sophomore LHP Tyler Wilson (2-1) on a solo home run. The Rams responded with an RBI double from the bat of Martin Figueroa, scoring sophomore Chris Hess to tie the game at one. Figueora went 5-for-5 from the plate against Campbell.
In the same inning, sophomore Jordan Powell hit a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in Figueroa.
Campbell would respond in the next half-inning, putting up three runs in the fourth to retake the lead. With men on, Rams freshman Kevin Heiss scored on a Hess single to left, setting the stage for a three-run Figueroa home run to left to give the Rams a 6-4 lead. Rhode Island would pick up an insurance run in the eighth, and Campbell rallied for two runs in the ninth against Rams closer Tyler Barrs, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Sunday would be just as (if not more) satisfying for the Rams. A pair of runs in the first two innings gave Ben Wessel (1-1) all the run support he would need, as Rhode Island put up eight runs in the fourth to make the score 10-0. Wessel would allow just a single run in five innings of work.
“He mixed speeds, he pounded the strike zone – it was probably his best performance so far and he still can be better which is exciting,” head coach Raphael Cerrato said.
At the heart of the Ram’s offensive outburst were a pair of two-run home runs. First from Derek Gardella to left field and then Chase Livingston to neutralize the Wildcats and give them a deficit too big to overcome.
“We’re just trying to keep the line moving, get [at-bats],” Figueroa said. That’s when you’re gonna score runs, that’s when you’re going to get involved with the game.”
The Rams’ only loss of the weekend came in their opener against Indiana State, in which the Rams were hindered by a battery of Sycamores. Four pitchers combined to allow only five Ram hits on the afternoon, as starter Steve Moyers (0-4) was tagged for six runs (only four earned) through six innings of work.
With the Rams first series win, their growth through this season has been noticed.
“It’s funny, I’m watching a game Saturday and Sunday and there were two or three different occasions where I’m saying this is us,” Cerrato said. “This is what URI baseball is. Guys that battle at the plate, stealing bases.”.
Rhode Island will travel down to Towson University this Friday for the first of a three-game set before opening conference play against George Mason the following weekend.