The University of Rio Grande parlayed a quick start offensively and a solid pitching performance from senior starter Ryan Robertson into a 9-5 win over rival Shawnee State University, Thursday night, in Mid-South Conference baseball action at VA Memorial Stadium.
Rio Grande, which snapped a four-game losing streak against Shawnee State dating back to the 2011 season, improved to 15-12 overall and 3-6 in the MSC with its fourth straight win.
Shawnee State slipped to 14-13 overall and 3-4 in league play with the loss.
Rio scored twice in the opening inning and four times in second against Shawnee starter Zak Esposito before adding three more runs in the fifth to take a 9-1 lead.
Robertson (3-3), a left-hander from Waverly, Ohio, checked the Bears on just three hits and the one run through the first seven innings before tiring in the eighth.
Shawnee made things a bit more respectable down the stretch, adding three hits and three runs against Robertson in the eighth and two hits and a run against junior reliever Dylan Perego (Waterdown, Ontario, Canada) in the ninth.
Rio Grande took the lead in the first when sophomore Grant Tamane (Pickering, Ontario, Canada) reached on a one-out single, senior Shane Spies (Polk, OH) followed with a double and, one out later, sophomore Kyle Findley (Cincinnati, OH) dumped an opposite field single into shallow left to score both runners and make it 2-0.
The RedStorm tacked on four more runs in the second to push their advantage to 6-0.
Sophomore Tyler Donaldson (Dayton, OH) led off with a single to left, stole second and rode home on a single up the middle by senior Zach Dumler (Vandalia, OH).
One out later, senior Kyle Perez (Casselberry, FL) reached on an infield single and Tamane followed with a double to right to make it 4-0. Spies was then intentionally walked to load the bases and freshman Chris Ford (Athens, OH) followed with a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop which scored Perez.
On the same play, a throwing error on the relay trying to double up allowed sophomore Ethan Abell (Mount Vernon, OH), who was courtesy running for Tamane, to score the fourth run of the inning.
The Bears got on the board on a two-out run-scoring double in the third by Calvin Sluberski, but Rio added three runs in the fifth thanks to a sacrifice fly by freshman Kirk Yates (Chillicothe, OH), an RBI double by Dumler and a run-scoring pinch single by freshman Jonathan Schob (Decatur, OH) to push the lead to 9-1.
That’s how things stayed until the Shawnee eighth when a two-out, two-run single by Joe Henderson and a bases-loaded error allowed the Bears to draw within 9-4.
Shawnee also loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Perego, setting the stage for a sacrifice fly to left by Henderson to make it 9-5. The game ended, though, when Colin Keim’s line drive was picked off by a leaping Yates at third base for the final out.
Tamane and Donaldson both had three hits in the win for the RedStorm, while Findley and Dumler drove in two runs each.
Sluberski, Keim and Jordan Maier all had two hits for Shawnee State, while Esposito suffered his third loss in five decisions.
The two teams will conclude the three-game weekend with a doubleheader on Friday beginning at noon.
A live webcast of both games will be available at www.ihigh.com/redstorm starting at 11:50 a.m.