Gaita, Ruziak shine in Panthers' victory
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Senior Cam Ruziak (Sterling, Mass.) homered and junior Dylan Gaita (Melrose, Mass.) pitched seven strong innings as Plymouth State University topped Johns Hopkins University, 3-2, in a non-conference baseball game at Terry Park on Saturday morning.
Plymouth finished its Spring Break trip an even 5-5 with bookend victories over the Blue Jays. The Panthers opened the Florida trip with a 12-11, 10-inning victory over JHU, ranked #21 in the country at the time. With the win PSU snaps a four-game skid and moves to 6-5 on the year, while the Blue Jays sit at 10-8.
Gaita got the start for the Panthers, giving up just two runs on the day. The Blue Jays scored one in the top of the first and, if not for a great defensive play from sophomore Andrew Salta (Laconia, N.H.), it could have been more. Junior Tim Kutcher (Forest Hill, Md.) walked and stole second and a fielding error scored him and put senior Mike Smith (Charlotte, N.C.) at second. A ball through the left side lured Smith to the plate, but Salta gunned him down at the plate to end the inning.
Plymouth got two of its three early runs in the bottom of the frame. Junior Ryan Richard (Berlin, N.H.) led off with a single and a sacrifice bunt from junior Geoff Kayo (Londonderry, N.H.) moved him into scoring position. A double to right centerfield from senior Nate Frederick (Worcester, Mass.) scored Richard and Frederick touched the plate a batter later when a fielding error off the bat of sophomore Ben Curry (Hampstead, N.H.) resulted in an unearned run.
Ruziak made it 3-1 with his solo blast in the second, his second of the year, and both teams drew to a standstill for the next three innings. Gaita faced just three batters over the minimum from the second through sixth innings, retiring the side in order twice.
Johns Hopkins scored its last run of the ballgame in the top of the seventh. Senior outfielder Colby Wilson (Tucson, Ariz.) led off with a double and a sacrifice bunt left him 90 feet from the plate. An RBI groundout from sophomore Dilon Bowman (Greensboro, N.C.) scored Wilson and cut the Panthers' lead to 3-2, but Gaita got the next batter to line out to second to end the inning.
Junior Alex Libby (Freeport, Maine) came on in relief after a leadoff single opened the top of the eighth and retired the next three batters. The 6-2 righty wrapped up his first save of the season after surrendering just a one-out single in the ninth.
Gaita completed seven full innings while giving up five hits and only one earned run. He struck out two while walking three.
Wilson, the only JHU player with multiple hits, finished two-for-three with a run scored. Kutcher took two of the three free passes handed out by PSU pitching. Senior Nick Burns (Hopkinton, Mass.) tossed 5.1 innings for the Blue Jays, allowing all three runs on six hits while striking out four. Junior Josh Hejka (Dearborn, Mich.) followed with 2.2 innings of one-hit ball. He also fanned four.
Senior Mitch Sytulek (Raymond, N.H.) was perfect at the plate as he and Richard split time at second base. The duo finished three-for-four. Richard has a hit in five-straight games and has reached base safely in 10-of-11 contests. Frederick's two-hit, one-RBI performance helped notch a win to end Plymouth's Florida trip.
The Panthers have a quick turnaround as they travel to Babson College for a 3:30 p.m. contest on Monday (Mar. 26).
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