FORT MYERS, Fla. - Plymouth State University and Illinois College split a pair of extra-inning baseball games on Sunday in the annual Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic, with each team delivering a game-winning, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the eighth inning on each end of the doubleheader.,
Illinois College pulled out the first game, 6-5, and Plymouth State came back to take the nightcap, 12-11. Both teams are now 1-3 on the season, and three of PSU's games have been one-run affairs.
The teams combined for 23 runs on 29 hits in the nightcap. The Blueboys took a 4-0 lead in the top of the second, but by the end of the sixth inning, PSU led 11-5. Illinois College rallied with six runs in the top of the seventh inning to force extra frames, but the Panthers pulled out their first win of the season on a game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth by junior Garrett Brewer (Rutland, Vt.).
Senior Jay Kleponis (Reading, Mass.) led the Panther offense in the nightcap with three hits, including a key eighth-inning double, and two RBI. Junior Steve Picco (Marshfield, Mass.) contributed a two-run double two highlight PSU's five-run third inning, and senior Jim VanGyzen (Glocester, R.I./Ponaganset) added two hits and three RBI, including a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
Freshman Jonathan Bishop (Woburn, Mass.) started on the mound for the Panthers, and after struggling early, settled down to pitch three straight scoreless innings. He left after six innings with a no-decision. Sophomore Mike Moody (Manchester, N.H./Central), who suffered the loss in the opener, worked a scoreless eighth inning in the nightcap and picked up the victory.
The Blueboys took a 5-0 lead through five innings of the first game, but PSU rallied with three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Kleponis cracked an RBI single and VanGyzen added a sacrifice fly in the sixth-inning rally, and sophomore Bryant Lausberg (Somersworth, N.H.) delivered a clutch two-run single in the seventh inning to tie the game at 5-5.
Freshman Joe Hudson (Greenfield, Mass.) worked into the fifth inning in his first career start for PSU and got a no-decision. Senior Chris Welch (South Burlington, Vt.) and sophomore Matt Koban (Bradford, N.H./Kearsarge) had scoreless relief stints for the Panthers, and Moody was tagged with the loss after giving up a run in the eighth, including the game-winning hit by Clint Wherley.
PSU plays another doubleheader Monday against Fredonia State (N.Y.), beginning at 2:00 p.m.
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