Webster University continued its hot play here Monday morning as the Gorloks used a four-run first inning en route to earning an 8-5 victory over 10th-ranked Southern Maine in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational at Lake Myrtle Park.
With the victory, Webster extends its win streak to five straight games and improves its record to 6-2 on the season, while USM falls to 1-2 on the season. The win was also the second this season for the Gorloks over a nationally-ranked foe as Webster opened the season with a 5-4 win over sixth-ranked Concordia (Chicago).
In the win over the Huskies, Webster's offense matched its season high in hits with 14 and the Gorloks have now recorded double-digit hits in four consecutive games, including all three games on its spring break trip to Florida.
Sophomore first baseman Kyler Kent (Pottsboro, Texas) led the way offensively for Webster as he was 4-for-5 at the plate and drove home two runs, while senior center fielder Conner Wardlaw (Arnold, Mo./Jefferson College), senior left fielder Mike Wick (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), freshman third baseman Ben Swords (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) and junior second baseman Danny Strohm (St. Louis, Mo./Greenville University) each had two hits. In fact, seven of the Gorloks nine position starters recorded at least one hit in the win.
Webster jumped in front 4-0 in the first inning thanks to three hits and a Husky error. In the inning, junior right fielder Nate Tholl (Tinley Park, Ill./John A. Logan) drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a double by Kent and after senior designed hitter Ben Dinter (Gurnee, Ill./College of Lake County) drew a walk to load the bases, Wick delivered an RBI single to left to bring home Tholl with the first run. Swords would then reach on a fielding error by USM first baseman Anthony Degificio to bring home the second run. Sophomore catcher Joe Swanson (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine West) followed by getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home the third run and Strohm would bring home its fourth run on his single through the right side. The Huskies would get out of the inning without further damage as USM reliever Bobby Delaney forced freshman shortstop Matt Staker (El Cajon, Calif./Saint Augustine) to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
USM would respond in the top of the second inning as they used five hits, a wild pitch and scored three runs to cut Webster's lead to 4-3.
The Gorloks got one of those runs back in the bottom of the second inning thanks to a lead-off double by Wardlaw, a hit by pitch, a groundout, a walk and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wick to give Webster a 5-3 lead.
Webster extended its lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a 2-run single down the right-field line by Kent. Kent's single brought home both Wardlaw, who singled to lead off the inning and Tholl, who doubled down the left field line.
The Huskies added a run in the fifth on a ground-rule double by Dylan Hapworth and an RBI single by Jake Dexter that chased Webster senior starting pitcher C.J. Lee (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) from the game. Lee pitched 4.1 innings to fail to earn a no-decision as he allowed 10 hits and four runs while walking two and striking out four in his 94 pitch effort.
With Lee out of the game, Webster turned the game over to sophomore lefthander Shane Donovan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), who pitched the final 4.2 innings and allowed four hits and one run, while walking one and fanning three to earn the win and improve to 3-0 on the season. Donovan has a 3-0 record and a 1.69 ERA on the season in a team-best five appearances.
USM would pull within 7-5 in the top of the seventh thanks to three straight singles, the final single being a run-scoring one by Kip Richard.
The Gorloks would add an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a lead-off triple by Swords and a bunt single by Strohm to push its lead to 8-5. Webster would then add another bunt single by Staker to put runners on first and second with one out, but Tanner Laberge, the fifth Huskies pitcher of the game, would strike out both Wardlaw and Tholl to end the inning.
In the eighth, Webster had another scoring chance as Kent led off with a single and with two outs, Swords added a double, but Kent was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Swords' double to leave the score 8-5.
Donovan would retire the first two hitters in the ninth before Dexter reached on a fly ball that Wardlaw dropped in deep center field for an error and the Gorloks would seal the win and end the game by getting Richard to ground out to second.
While Webster had 14 hits, so too, did Southern Maine as the Huskies were paced by three hits from Dexter, while Hapworth, Richard, and Degifico each had two hits in the setback.
Joshua Joy (0-1) earned the start for the Huskies and failed to make it out of the first inning as he retired just one of the seven batters he faced. Joy allowed two hits, four runs and walked two.
The Huskies final five pitchers threw 7.2 innings and allowed 12 hits and four runs, while walking one and fanning 11, including Colton Lawrence striking out six of the 11 batters he faced.
For the game, both teams left a combined 21 runners on base as USM left 11 and Webster stranded 10 runners.
The Gorloks will continue play in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational on Tuesday, March 13 with a 5 p.m. EDT game against Rutgers-Camden at Lake Myrtle Park's Main Field.
STORY COURTESY OF WEBSTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION