CCSU Reclaims Late Lead to Defeat Wildcats, 8-6
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (12-12) rallied through the middle innings, after falling behind to Central Connecticut State (4-4) early. However, the Blue Devils pushed back and held on for the 8-6 win behind the closeout pitching of Anthony Mannuccia, Saturday at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
The Blue Devils pushed the initial run across in the top of the first, scoring on a two-out Anthony Turgeon RBI single through the left side. CCSU added three more in the top of the second, opening with Connor Fitzsimons scoring on wild pitch after advancing on another. Two runs came in on J.P. Sportman’s triple to center field, including Sportman, due to an error in the Wildcats’ outfield.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom half of the inning to climb back in the game. A one-out walk for Eros Modena set the table for the score and Bryant Munoz took a second-pitch RBI triple to the right center wall for the Wildcats first score. Jake Welch brought Munoz in on an RBI groundout to narrow the deficit to 4-2.
In response, the Blue Devils produced another big inning, back-to-back singles and a pair of stolen bases gave the opportunity to score as Jeff Osak reached on an error in the top of the third. Fitzsimons followed, scoring on an RBI groundout, and pushing the CCSU lead to 6-2.
Through the middle innings, the Wildcats made their move, starting with a home plate theft by Modena, after reaching on a two-out single in the fourth.
The scoring continued into the bottom of the fifth as right fielder Josh Johnson took a leadoff first-pitch single into shallow center field. He was quick to touch home, as catcher Zach Olszewski tripled to right center. First baseman Eric Sams brought Olszewski in on an RBI groundout and Modena brought the game to a 6-6 tie with a sacrifice bunt to bring in Matt Noble.
After a tough start, reliever Gabriel Hernandez teamed up with Christopher Waltermire to shut the Blue Devils down for four full frames, but an eighth-inning jam proved costly, as CCSU pushed two additional runners across for the 8-6 advantage.
Holding a two-run lead, the Blue Devils went to reliever Mannuccia, who pitched two shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out four, collecting his first save of the season. Late reliever Nick Boyd (1-0) earned the win, pitching two innings. Responsible for the go-ahead runner, Waltermire (1-3) takes the loss for B-CU.
“We did a good job of coming back,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin, “but ended up giving it away at the end. We could have folded early, but we fought back.”
At the plate, Olszewski had a solid day, leading the team with 3-for-5 batting, one RBI and one run scored. Munoz went 2-for-3 with one RBI and a run scored.
The Wildcats and Blue Devils return to Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Sunday at Noon for the series final. CCSU holds a 2-0 advantage in the series.
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