Baseball drop two of three at St. Bonnies, no longer unbeaten in A-10

The University of Rhode Island baseball team (15-12) lost their first conference games of the season (6-2, A-10) at St. Bonaventure University this past weekend, losing the first 5-2, and the rubber game 7-5, while winning the second 8-4.

In the series opener, the teams battled to a pitching duel. The Rams trailed the Bonnies 1-0, up until the fourth inning. Redshirt senior Matt O’Neil hit a solo home run (4), tying the score at 1-1.  Aaron Phillips took the lead back for the Bonnies in the bottom half of the fourth, when he hit his second RBI single of the game to make the score 2-1.

St. Bonaventure added onto their lead in the sixth inning when T.J. Baker ripped a two-run home run, extending the lead to 4-1. O’Neil was able to bring in one last run for the Rams in the eighth, hitting an RBI single to send junior Jordan Powell home. The Bonnies would score an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, before closing out the Rams to win the game 5-2. Junior Nick Johnson (1-3) was handed the loss for the Rams, giving up four runs on six hits in 5.2 innings. Johnson did, however, strike out seven batters.

The Rams responded from their first conference loss of the season the next day, in the first game of  a Sunday back-to-back. URI stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the top half of the first inning. Redshirt junior Chris Hess jump started the scoring after he drew a leadoff walk. After Powell moved Hess over to second base on a sacrifice bunt, senior Martin Figueroa hit an RBI single to bring home Hess. O’Neil followed up the opening run with his second home run in as many games, a two-run shot.

The Bonnies scored one run in the first and second innings to minimize their deficit to 3-2. The Rams gave themselves a bigger cushion in the third inning. O’Neil sent the fourth run home following an RBI triple and later scored on a Mike Corin groundout. Junior Mike Foley (3) hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth for the 6-2 lead.

The Bonnies would score two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings to pull within two runs, but the Rams closed out the game with two runs in the top of the ninth inning to secure the 8-4 win. Redshirt Matt Murphy (4-2) earned the win, allowing three earned runs on seven hits, while striking out two batters. Redshirt sophomore Cam LaFleur was handed his first career save, closing out the game’s final three innings on the mound.  

Head coach Raphael Cerrato was happy with the pitching performances from both Murphy and LaFleur, as well as the steady hitting from O’Neal.

“Matt Murphy pitched really well and Cam LeFleur came in and threw the last three innings for two and two thirds, and they each threw the ball very well,” Cerrato said. “That was the game Matt O’Neil had a big game with three hits, a home run and a triple. It was just a solid game overall, we got some big hits, O’Neil had a good game and we pitched well.”

After avoiding the sweep in the first game of the doubleheader, the Rams struggled to complete the comeback after allowing six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. A couple of URI errors opened the door with two runs, and St. Bonaventure’s Ryan MacCarrick then blasted a grand slam to give his team a commanding 6-0 lead. The Rams got on the board in the fifth following a Powell two-run RBI single. Cerrato was frustrated that his team dug their hole deep in the bottom of the sixth inning, and were unable to recover from that point.

“We made a couple mistakes, especially when they scored six runs in one inning,” Cerrato said. “They capitalized and we couldn’t minimize the runs in the inning. It ended up being a huge inning. Their kid hit a grand slam with two outs. I think they scored all six runs with two outs.”

URI made one last stand in the ninth inning, rallying for three runs, with Hess, Powell and senior Martin Figueroa each collecting RBIs. With the bases loaded for the Rams, Corin popped out to end the game at 7-5. Freshman Vitaly Jangols (4-1) took the loss, the first of his young career. Jangols allowed six unearned runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work.

Rhode Island traveled back home to Bill Beck Field for a quick two-game homestand against Brown and Holy Cross on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively (see other story)