Flyers pitchers shut down Rhode Island to earn appearance in A10 Baseball Championship Game

The Flyers pitchers held Rhode Island to just five hits in Friday’s 3-1 win. Photo from May 27 courtesy of the Atlantic 10 Conference on Facebook.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The Dayton Flyers baseball team got a stellar outing from their pitchers in Friday’s elimination game, holding Rhode Island to just five hits in a 3-1 win at The Diamond in Richmond, Va., sending UD into Saturday’s Atlantic 10 Championship Game.

After falling to Rhode Island 8-2 on Friday, graduate right-handed pitcher R.J. Wagner was up to the task in a revenge game that would send the winner to the A-10 Championship Game against VCU.

Wagner was simply dominant, pitching 8 innings and allowing just four hits and one earned run on a fielder’s choice in the first inning. The pitcher from Zionville, Ind., would get all the offensive support he would need before he even took the mound.

In the top of the first inning, junior designated hitter Marcos Pujols doubled, and senior third baseman Riley Tirotta drove him in on an RBI single, advancing to second on the throw. Tirotta then took off for third, but the throw got away, and Tirotta rounded third and scored to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Although the Rams responded quickly, the two runs were more than enough for Wagner. The Flyers added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by junior catcher Jay Curtis, stretching the lead to 3-1.

The ninth inning was dicey for the Flyers, as senior relief pitcher Jonathan Brus gave up a single and walk with one out to put runners on first and second. Graduate pitcher Justin Longbrake relieved Brus and got a ground out, but the runners moved up to second and third with two outs. Longbrake then got another ground out to close the win for the Flyers.

With the win, the Flyers advance to Saturday’s A10 Championship Game against VCU at noon. Because the tournament is double elimination, if the Flyers win the first game, and second game will follow soon after the conclusion of the first game.

The Flyers were scheduled to face VCU four times in mid-May, but all of the games were cancelled when the Flyers were put on a COVID-19 pause.

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