Tyrell's Bat, Silva's Arm Rescue Cougars

More news about: Concordia-Chicago

March 10, 2018 - It may have started as an early-season game on the Spring Break trip, but in the end, the Concordia University Chicago baseball game against Ramapo College seemed to have the flavor of a post-season game in May. The ninth-ranked Cougars saw a 5-0 lead get away before they retook the lead, but they had to go down to the very last play of the game to put this one in the win column by a final score of 7-6.

Keaton Conner made his third start of the season tonight. While the Roadrunners made him work, throwing 97 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, he made some big pitches when needed and struck out six batters. Meanwhile, Ramapo starter Cory Heitler locked up the CUC batters through three, allowing only two walks.

The second time through the lineup saw the Cougars figure out Heitler. Joe Silva led off the fourth with a single to left for CUC's first hit. The Cougars put the pressure on immediately as Silva swiped second and took third on the catcher's throwing error. Andrew Massey them made it 1-0 Cougars as he smashed a single up the middle for the RBI hit. Mitch Wilson followed with the third hit of the inning, and Brady Roberts drew a walk to load the bases. Kevin Coppin then walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in Massey for the two-run edge.

Following a grounder in the infield for a force at home, Matt Fauth hit a grounder to short. The force was made at second, but the relay to first was off-target, allowing Coppin to hustle home behind Roberts for a 4-0 lead. Jose Mercado and Keegan Tyrell added base hits, with Tyrell's plating the fifth run of the inning and chasing Heitler from the game.

Ramapo began its comeback in the bottom of the fourth after Conner struck out the leadoff man. Three straight singles scored one run and put runners on the corners. A hit batsman then loaded the bases. The number nine batter then hit a ball down the first-base line. Massey dove and speared the ball, retiring the batter, but his throw to home was too late as the second run scored.

The Cougars' bats would go cold over the next four innings as RC reliever Kyle Haag kept his team in the game. From the last out of the fourth to the end of the eighth, Haag did not allow a hit while striking out five. Meanwhile, Ramapo scored two in the sixth on a two-run single and got the tying run to second before Alex Meyers came in and struck out the Roadrunners' cleanup hitter to keep it a 5-4 game.

Meyers retired the first six batters he saw before Ramapo touched him for a two-out run in the eighth, Joe Maugeri driving home the tying run. This time, it was Mike Formella that prevented further damage as he got a fly to center with the bases loaded to send the game into the ninth.

Coppin started the game-winning rally with a great at-bat, working a walk on a full count. The Roadrunners then went to the bullpen, ending Haag's hitless performance over 4 1/3 innings. The Cougars went to work on the new man, Coppin stealing second base. He was still there with two out when Mercado hit a chopper to the third baseman, but the fielder could only put the ball in his pocket as Mercado easily legged out the hit. Mercado then stole second, putting two in scoring position for Tyrell. The Cougars' center fielder worked the count to 2-2 before lining the ball up the middle to score both runs and put CUC up 7-5 as the teams went to the last of the ninth.

Formella got ahead of the first batter 1-2 but hit him with the next offering, and Ramapo had its lead runner aboard. Formella then struck out  the next man for the first out, but Vincenzo Sita doubled on a 1-2 pitch to put the tying runs in scoring position. A pinch-hitter was next, but Formella retired him on three strikes, putting CUC one out away from the win. Matt Chemis, the Roadrunners' leadoff man, took a strike and then hit the next pitch on the ground between first and second. The runner on third scored easily, but Silva charged the ball and threw a laser to Coppin at the plate. Coppin received the throw in plenty of time and held the ball during the collision at the plate, and the umpire's out call put a thrilling finish to a very competitive contest.

"That was my favorite win of the year. This was a great team we beat tonight," said CUC head coach Mike Stawski. "It took a total team effort, and it had a regional feel to it from the first pitch."

When asked about the Cougars' heroes, Stawski remarked, "There were so many heroes that it's hard to mention them all, but I can tell you that our experience prevailed tonight. We have played that game before many times, and that is why it was never too big of a situation. This is a win we will be talking about for a while."

The win puts the Cougars at 4-1 on the Florida trip and 6-2 overall. They will conclude the week with a 2:30 game in Winter Haven on Sunday versus the College of New Jersey before jetting back home to Chicago on Sunday night.