FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Despite three runs in the eighth inning, the Big Red was unable to secure the comeback as they fell to Plymouth State University, 7-5, on Wednesday afternoon at the Player Development Complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Led by 16 strikeouts from the Panther pitching staff, Plymouth State starter Troy Brown tallied a bulk of the work as he recorded two runs on six hits with 12 strikeouts in seven innings on the mound.
After the Panthers posted four runs in the first on Denison starter Zack Huarte, the senior settled in, allowing one hit over the next two innings of action. Huarte lasted four innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
Trailing 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Big Red offense started to click. With runners on first and second and one out, senior Sam Frazen landed an RBI single up the middle to score Will Krushena from second. After Tanner Johnson was picked off at second during the next at-bat, sophomore Brian McAuliffe recorded his second double of the season, scoring Frazen and cutting the DU deficit to 6-2 after four innings of play.
Plymouth State added another insurance run, 7-2, in the top of the eighth when Cam Ruziak slapped an RBI single, but the momentum began to shift when Denison took over in the home half of the inning.
Following a Krushena walk and Johnson single to start the inning, Frazen ripped a double to right center to plate the pair and total his second and third RBI's of the game. Three batters later, freshman Max Lahn scored Frazen from second as he reached first on an error, making it a two-run game, 7-5.
After PSU's Will Austin hit Grady Paine in the next at-bat, the Panthers went to reliever Alex Larson with two runners on and two outs. The Big Red bats were beginning to heat up, but the inning was put to rest as Joseph Maydwell, who pinch ran for Paine, was picked off by Larson at first, ending the inning with Denison trailing by two.
The score stayed the same entering the bottom of the ninth, but Plymouth State's David Sampson earned his first save of the season with three consecutive outs, sending the Big Red record to 7-4 overall. Plymouth State improved to 5-1 on the season.
Doing most of the damage for DU was Frazen who went 2-for-4 on the day with two hits, two runs scored and three runs batted in. Johnson also tallied a 2-for-4 performance with one run scored.
Denison will return to Fort Myers this Thursday, March 22 for a 9 a.m. first-pitch with No. 21 Johns Hopkins University.