Ninth Inning Rally Propels Baseball to Walk-Off Win Over Ursinus, 9-8
SWARTHMORE, Pa. - On the strength of a ninth-inning rally and a walk-off, two-run double from senior second baseman Anthony Montalbano, the Swarthmore baseball (19-12, 5-8 CC) team turned in its most dramatic performance of the Centennial Conference season on Tuesday, defeating the Ursinus Bears (13-17, 5-8 CC) 9-8 after trailing by three runs going into the bottom of the ninth.
The win was all but necessary for the Garnet, as the team continues to fight for a Conference playoff spot as the season draws to a close.
Rizzo got on base in all five of his at-bats, also getting hit by a pitch in the ninth inning.
Sophomore left fielder Nicko Burnett, junior right fielder Tim Kwilos, senior third baseman Mike Waterhouse, and freshman shortstop Danny McMahon each picked up two hits.
After falling behind 1-0 in the fourth, the Garnet wasted no time in regaining control, as a sac fly from junior centerfielder Rory McTear and a two-run home run by freshman designated hitter Scoop Ruxin gave Swarthmore a 3-1 lead. In the fifth, Rizzo tacked on two more with a two-RBI single, and Swarthmore appeared to be cruising into the second half of the game.
Trouble struck in the top of the sixth, however, as Ursinus staged a five-run rally to regain the lead. All nine men in the Bears' lineup came to bat in the inning, and six reached on hits. A 5-1 lead had turned into a 6-5 deficit before senior Adam Hardy struck out Ursinus' #9 hitter to stop the bleeding.
The Garnet bats were held scoreless for three innings as Ursinus tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh and ninth, heading into the home half of the last inning with an 8-5 lead.
The ninth got off to an inauspicious start, as Kwilos' hard ground ball was corralled for the first out. McMahon, however, singled to start the rally, and junior Sean Bryant picked up a pinch-hit single to put runners on the corners with one man out. Rizzo was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and senior Mike Cameron earned first base with a hard-fought walk, forcing in a run to close the gap to 8-6. Senior Sam Menzin drove in the seventh run with a pinch-hit single before Montalbano, who had been saddled with an 0-for-5 prior to his ninth-inning appearance, drove the game-winning double into the right-centerfield gap, capping the rally and giving Swarthmore a much-needed 9-8 win.
Junior Sean Mangus earned the win with two innings of one-run ball. Senior starter Kyle Crawford pitched well through five frames, allowing just one run on six hits, before running into trouble in the sixth.
The Garnet will attempt to make it a clean sweep of the Bears on Friday, as the team will travel for a rematch with Ursinus. First pitch is set for 3:30 pm.