Fisher baseball claws way to 11th inning win

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AUBURNDALE, Fla. – The St. John Fisher College baseball team got seven strong innings out of sophomore pitcher RJ Kuruts as the Cardinals defeated No. 7 UMass Boston, 8-6, on Thursday at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex.  With the win, Fisher, which is receiving votes in the latest national poll, improved to 5-2 while the Beacons fell to 0-1 to begin their season.

Kuruts allowed just two runs on four hits as the righty came away with eight strikeouts.  Dillan Wilkinson was tagged with four runs (three earned) in a third of an inning while Jack Delaney threw 1.2 scoreless innings.  Jared Wren (1-0) got the win on the mound after allowing just one hit over two innings to go along with three Ks.

After a scoreless first inning, the Cardinals got on the board in the top of the second when Antony Mantova crushed a solo shot over the left field fence to stake Fisher to a 1-0 lead.  The Beacons were poised to answer in the home half of the second after putting two on, but Kuruts had other ideas as the sophomore pitcher struck out the side to preserve the one-run lead heading into the third inning.

The Cardinals struck again in the top of the third with three runs on two hits and a costly error to open up a 4-0 edge.  Following two quick outs, Michael Beimel kept the inning going with a walk and moved to second when Thomas Pasquale followed suit with a walk of his own.  With a runner in scoring position, Allen Murphy stepped in and smacked an RBI-single up the middle to make it 2-0.  With a run already in and two on base, Mantova came up and lined a base hit to left that scored Pasquale before another run scored on an infield error by the Beacons.

UMass Boston was in position to put runs on the board again in the third inning as the Beacons had runners and first and third with one away, but the Cardinals worked out of trouble as Ryan Simmons (Victor) turned a slick back-handed double play to escape the jam.

Still holding a four-run lead in the fourth, Fisher tacked on two more runs as Stephen Edgett (Webster Thomas) reached on an error and promptly stole second.  Justin Graham (Webster Schroeder) worked a walk before Pasquale singled through the left side to plate Edgett and make it 5-0 in the process.  As the inning continued, Murphy collected his second RBI of the game with a single to right that made it 6-0 in Fisher’s favor before the Beacons could retire the side.

The Beacons would get on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth despite not recording a hit, but Kuruts hunkered down as the sophomore allowed just two base runners over the next two innings.

In the eighth inning, with Kuruts out and Fisher turning to its bullpen, UMass Boston took advantage with four runs on four hits and an error to storm back and tie the game up 6-6.

Neither team was able to break the tie in the ninth or 10th innings until the Cardinals plated a run in the top of the 11th after Edgett led off with a single and moved to second following a sacrifice bunt from Graham.  With a runner in scoring position, Pasquale lined a two-out double down the left field line that scored the go-ahead run as Fisher took a 7-6 edge.  The Beacons worked around Murphy with an intentional walk and Mantova made them pay with an RBI-single to the outfield that brought Pasquale home and staked the Cardinals to a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the frame.

The Beacons had the go-ahead run come to the plate in the bottom of the 11th, but Wren reached back and struck the final batter out looking to end the threat and the game.

The two teams will square off again as 12:30 p.m. on Friday in the middle game of their three-game series at Pat Thomas Stadium in Leesburg, Fla.

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