Hector Benitez’s two-run single in the top of the ninth proved to be the game-winner as Savannah State came back from a three-run deficit to defeat Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament in a game played at Perdue Stadium.
With the game knotted at 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Charles Sikes and Zachary Brigham drew walks to start the inning. After a pitching change, Michael McHugh’s sac bunt allowed Brigham and Sikes to advance to second and third base, respectively. Benitez stepped to the plate and drilled a pitch to centerfield that sent Sikes and Brigham across home plate. Brian Miller struck out and Jacob Lightle flied out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hawks went down 1-2-3 as Justin Dattilo grounded out , Greg Turlik popped out and Skylar Murray struck out swinging.
Spencer Gillis pitched the final four and a third scoreless innings in relief for SSU, striking out four batters while giving up two hits and two walks.
Starter Austin Robinson went two innings and gave up four runs and Greg Hollman lasted 2.2 innings and surrendered two runs while recording a pair of strikeouts.
Both teams scored three runs in the first inning.
Mendez Elder led off with game with a double. After Jonathan Moore struck out, Harrison Moore singled which advanced Elder to third. Following a strikeout by Sikes, Brigham, McHugh and Benitez responded with consecutive RBI singles to put SSU ahead 3-0.
UMES, the No. two seed in the Northern Division, answered with three runs off one hit in their half of the inning, thanks to a pair of Tiger errors.
Mike Escanilla hit a RBI single for UMES in the bottom of the second to put the Hawks ahead 4-3.
A two-run single by Joshua James in the bottom of the fourth increased Maryland-Eastern Shore’s advantage to 6-3.
Savannah State (21-31) started their rally in the top of the seventh when Elder led off with a solo home run to cut their deficit to 6-4.
In the eighth, SSU added two more runs to tie the game.
Benitez walked while Miller and Lightle each singled to load the bases. Elder flied out for the first out but hit ball was deep enough to allow Benitez to score. Devin Jackson followed with a ground-out which allowed Miller to tie the game. Harrison Moore struck out to end the inning.
The Tigers, the No. three seed in the Southern Division, had 14 hits in the contest but left 10 men on base and committed three errors.
Elder, H. Moore, Brigham, McHugh, Benitez, Miller and Lightle all had two hits apiece for SSU. Elder scored twice and had two RBI, Brigham scored twice and Benitez drove in three runs.
UMES (16-32) was led by Escanilla who had two hits and scored twice. Chipper Smith suffered the loss. Smith pitched one inning and gave up one hit, two runs and two walks. Starter Jesse Stinnett went seven innings and struck out nine while giving up four runs.
The Hawks ended the game with eight hits and stranded nine on base.
Courtesy: Savannah State Athletics