Big Bats Propel Mason Past Rhode Island
ST. LOUIS — No. 7 George Mason scored runs in five consecutive innings, dealing an 9-5 loss to No. 2 Rhode Island in the first round of the 2017 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship at Billiken Sports Center.
The Patriots (26-31) advance to face No. 6 Davidson in the Thursday's second round at 10:00 am CT. Like Mason, the Wildcats pulled the first-round upset, beating St. Bonaventure 5-2. Rhody (30-21) falls into the consolation bracket and will play Thursday evening at 8:30 pm CT in an elimination game.
The two teams played a home run derby, with six round-trippers between them. George Mason had 13 hits, including three home runs, one each from Greg Popatak, Brady Acker and Tyler Nelin. The Rams had eight hits, three of which were long balls, two from Mike Corin and one from Chris Hess.
After Hess's first-inning two-run homer, Mason starter Tyler Zombro (6-5) settled down and kept the Rams to just two runs over the next six innings. He picked up the win for the 7 1/3 inning performance, allowing four runs, three earned on seven total hits with eight strikeouts.
Corin, who was 3-for-4 with two RBI, was responsible for two of Rhody's other runs on leadoff solo shots in the fourth and ninth innings, one off Zombro and one off Ryan Ricci. The Rams' second-inning run was an RBI single by Jordan Powell that scored Brett McManus.
Popatak had Mason's first home run, a two-out dinger in the top of the second. A pair of fourth-inning RBI singles in the third by Logan Driscoll and Trevor Kelly tied the game at three, and an RBI single by Frank Sturek in the fourth gave the Patriots the lead. Corin's first homer in the bottom of the inning tied it again, but Mason pushed two runs across in the fifth and sixth, taking the lead for good. Alejandro Aponte had a two-RBI single in the fifth and Acker's two-run homer in the sixth provided the four runs.
The teams traded ninth-inning homers to establish the final score.
All nine Patriot batters had hits, with Acker, Popatak, Jon Hansen and Aponte each were 2-for-4. Acker and Aponte had two RBI apiece.
Rhode Island starter Matt Murphy (5-4) took the loss, surrendering six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.