The Patriots used good pitching, some timely hitting and a dose of “small ball” in beating the visiting Rio Grande RedStorm 3-2 Friday. The Mid-South Conference victory gave Luther Bramblett’s team sole possession of fourth place in the conference with a 6-4 record.
“It was a good game all the way around,” said Bramblett whose team moved to 25-10 overall. “The situational hitting wasn’t so good for either team as we both left 11 runners on base. But our pitchers did a good job in making some big pitches.”
Those big pitches came from starter Bruce Tolliver (4-3) who worked 5.1 innings and Matt Wagner who tossed the final 3.2 frames to earn his second save of the year. Tolliver allowed one unearned run on three hits while walking six and striking out five.
Wagner had some anxious moments in his relief role. He stranded runners on second and third when he took over for Tolliver in the sixth inning. After setting the side down in order in the seventh he allowed a run in the eighth but left the potential tying run at second base. In the ninth inning the RedStorm got a runner to third base with two outs but Wagner got Chris Ford to ground out to second to end the game.
Rio Grande (18-15, 6-9) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning but the Bat Pats answered with two runs in the bottom of the second. Adrian Garcia singled and scored on a Jeremy Turpin single and Turpin later scored on a single by CJ Engelstad.
The “small ball” got St. Catharine the third run that proved to be the game winner in the fifth inning. KC Mejia, who made a spectacular play at second base in the top of the fifth to save a run, led off the inning with a walk. He was sacrificed to second by Tyler Mischel, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Garcia.
Garcia and Carlos Hernandez each had three hits as the Bat Pats collected 10 hits for the game. Including Thursday’s doubleheader against Asbury University, Garcia reached base 10 of his 11 official at-bats.
The series with Rio Grande will conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader starting at noon.