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Big Red takes rubber match with Ferrum

Brian McAuliffe (5) and Will Krushena (26)  |  Photo by Jace Delgado
Brian McAuliffe (5) and Will Krushena (26) | Photo by Jace Delgado

FERRUM, Va.—Grady Paine drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and Mikey Rivera closed things out to give Denison a 6-5 win over Ferrum in the rubber match of the season-opening three-game series.

First-year left-hander Will McManaman made his first career start on the mound for Denison and was outstanding.  He went five innings, allowing only two runs off five hits while striking out three.  Henry Haack took over in the sixth and worked two perfect frames, striking out a pair.

The game was tied 2-2 in the top of the fourth until Ty Robinson slugged a two-run double to the gap in right-center scoring Anthony Ruggieri and Brian McAuliffe.  Robinson tried to stretch the double into a triple but was gunned down at third base on a nice relay from the shortstop.

In the seventh, Denison's first two batters in the inning were hit by a pitch, putting two base runners on with no one out.  Robinson's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position for Max Lahn who lifted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Ruggieri from third to put Denison on top, 5-2.

Rivera took the ball in the eighth seeking his first save of the season, but back-to-back walks put the senior in a jam.  The Big Red got one out on a sacrifice bunt by Grey Sherfey, but a single up the middle by Nathaniel Anthony scored the runners from second and third to make it a one-run game. 

Tim Ortega walked, moving runners to first and second with only one out and Jake Martin tied the game with a double to left, scoring Anthony from second. 

With runners on second and third and one down, the Big Red intentionally walked Kyle Anstice hoping for a double play to get them out of the jam.

Will Davis followed with a slow dribbler to short.  Lahn fielded it cleanly and gave a good relay to Ruggieri at second.  His throw to first was just in time allowing Rivera to escape the inning with the game tied at 5-5.

In the top of the ninth, Nick Pettigrew drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a passed ball.  A sacrifice bunt by Robinson moved Pettigrew to third.  Trying to set up their own double play, Ferrum intentionally walked Lahn, placing runners on the corner with one out.  Paine delivered a base hit into shallow right field for the eventual game-winning RBI.

Rivera (1-0) got the win in relief, pitching a scoreless ninth.  Ferrum's Noah Collins took the loss in relief.

The Big Red improves to 2-1 on the season while the Panthers drop to 4-4.