Rams Drop Opener to Dayton at A-10 Championship

Photo Credit: Vincent Dusovic/Atlantic 10
Photo Credit: Vincent Dusovic/Atlantic 10

Rhode Island Lineup
White (CF), Heiss (SS), Vargas (1B), Laske (C), Coutts (DH), Mircovich (RF), Brodeur (2B), McManus (3B), Cavaliere (LF), Cherry (P)

Dayton Lineup
Garrity (CF), Cleary (RF), Echols (LF), Tirotta (3B), Brickman (DH), Curtis (C), Pujols (1B), Yamada (2B), Blackwell (SS), Wolfe (P)

How It Happened

A combination of wild pitching and errors doomed sixth-seeded Rhode Island as the Rams fell 5-2 to third-seeded Dayton in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Championship Wednesday morning.

With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Dayton (30-24-1) scored three runs on just one hit to take its first lead of the day. Leadoff batter Michael Cleary was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Alex Brickmann then reached on a catcher's interference - the second of the day by the Rams - and Jay Curtis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Eddie Pursinger lined a double to the corner in left, clearing the bases with the biggest play of the day.

Rhode Island (23-28) twice led in the game. The Rams got on the board quickly as Kevin Heiss drew a first-inning walk, advanced to second on a Jordan Laske walk and then scored when Jackson Coutts singled through the right side.

Dayton tied it in the bottom of the third when Michael Garrity scored on a two-out throwing error by pitcher Justin Cherry.

The Rams moved back ahead in the fifth inning though. Heiss singled to start the frame and moved to scoring position on a groundout. Laske then doubled down the left field line, allowing Heiss to cross the plate and make it 2-1.

Another unearned run allowed Dayton to tie the game again in the seventh inning. Connor Wilson singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Takahiro Yamada then reached on a softly-hit ball back to the mound, and Cherry's throw to first got away, allowing Wilson to knot the score at 2-2 and set up the comeback for Dayton an inning later.

Inside the Box Score

  • Senior Kevin Heiss singled twice, walked once and scored both Rhody runs.
  • With the walk - his 39th of the season - Heiss moved within one of the Rhode Island single-season record (40), set by Chris Famiglietti in 2012.
  • Sophomore Jackson Coutts singled twice and drove in one run.
  • Making just his third start of the season behing the plate, redshirt freshman Jordan Laske walked twice and provided an RBI double. 
  • Junior Greg Cavaliere singled twice, walked and stole a base. He is now a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts this season.
  • Dayton scored five runs despite having just four hits. Four errors - two of which were catcher's interference calls - two hit batters and two wild pitches hurt Rhode Island's chances in the close game.
  • Redshirt freshman Justin Cherry gave the Rams a strong start, allowing two runs, one earned, over 6.1 innings of work. He recorded six strikeouts and allowed just three hits.

What's Next
Rhode Island fell to the loser's bracket and will now play at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Rams will face #7 Saint Louis, which lost to #2 Davidson Wednesday afternoon.