The University of Rhode Island baseball team (14-10, 5-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) won their seventh and eighth consecutive games (6-4, 6-0) when they swept Saint Louis University in a doubleheader at Bill Beck Field this past Sunday.
Weather kept the two teams from taking the field on Friday and Saturday, but Rhode Island was ready to extend their undefeated record in the A-10 and at home. In the first game, the Rams trailed 4-3 going into the bottom half of the fifth inning, but some late game heroics allowed them to regain the lead.
Redshirt senior Matt O’Neil tied up the game at four runs apiece in the bottom of the seventh inning, when he drove in redshirt junior Chris Hess on a sacrifice fly. Redshirt senior Mike Corin then hit an RBI double into left field to bring home junior Jordan Powell for the 5-4 lead.
The Rams gave themselves some extra breathing room in the eighth when junior Mike Foley scored off of a Hess RBI base hit, increasing the the lead to 6-4. Freshman Vitaly Jangols earned his fourth win on the season (4-0) with two scoreless innings of work. He struck out one and allowed just two hits. Redshirt junior Tyler Barss earned his sixth save of the year by pitching a 1-2-3 final inning with one strikeout to secure the win.
The second game of the doubleheader was all Rhode Island as redshirt junior Matt Murphy put forth his second A-10 Pitcher of the Week performance on the mound. Murphy pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out five.
Head coach Raphael Cerrato was impressed with his pitcher’s dominant display, and recognizes the significance of his team’s depth after losing top rotation starters junior Tyler Wilson and redshirt senior Ben Wessel for the season to injuries.
“Luckily we had depth and guys that have been throwing well,” Cerrato said. “Matt has been pitching well. I mean he is still learning in terms of pitching, but what helped him yesterday was being able to mix in his cutter that was very effective. Matt’s pitched great he’s throwing strikes and his stuff is good. If he can continue to mix his pitches and throw strikes he is going to be really effective.”
In the bottom of the second inning, Rhode Island would score four of their six runs. O’Neil got on base with a single before he made the move to steal second, and Corin then got to first base after getting hit by a pitch. Sophomore Brett McManus was walked, loading the bases for freshman Sonny Ulliana as he brought in O’Neil on a fielder’s choice to third to open up the scoring for the Rams. Sophomore Kevin Heiss got on base from an RBI bunt that scored Corin, and then Hess hit a two-run RBI single to quickly make the score 4-0.
“It was great, St. Louis is a very good opponent, definitely one of the best teams in our conference,” Cerrato said. “Besides us, every year they are also in the mix for first place. We had the opportunity to take two yesterday, which is very difficult, sweeping a doubleheader. We played well and the first game we had a great comeback, our kids showed some resilience.”
The game was put away for good in the bottom of the eighth inning when Corin hit a two-run blast for his seventh home run of the season. The Rams wrapped up the game with 6-0 shutout still in tact. O’Neil also earned Atlantic 10 player for the week, going 8-for-17 with nine RBIs, scoring four runs, hitting two home runs, a triple and two stolen bases during this past week’s slate of games.
The Rams had been scheduled to visit UMass Lowell on Tuesday but the game was postponed due to rainfall. They will head to Bryant University on Wednesday, looking to continue their consistent streak of wins.
URI saw their eight-game winning streak snap against interstate rival Bryant University in a road matchup Wednesday. The Rams held a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but saw their advantage evaporate in the next half inning. Jake Walker allowed a two-run shot that ultimately gave him and the team the loss. Corin hit his eighth home run of the season and his team-leading 24th RBI.
The Rams will next head to Allegany, New York for a three-game set against St. Bonaventure University, beginning Friday at 3 p.m.