In a game dominated by pitching, a pair of clutch hits by senior Jake Getzendanner and sophomore Cody Brick in the top of the 10th inning gave Catonsville (6-2) a 3-2 lead and they held on for the victory over host Towson (5-3) on Tuesday.
Getzendanner doubled to right centerfield to lead off the inning. After a failed sacrifice bunt and wild pitch, Brick grounded a single up the middle to plate the winning run.
Matt Rhoades was the winning pitcher for the Comets after working the final three innings.
The southpaw stranded the winning run on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning when he snagged a hard one-hopper off the bat of Jake Orendorff with two outs.
“My glove was in the right spot. I came off the mound in a good position and snagged it,” Rhoades said. “We work on getting in a good fielding position in practice.”
Rhoades battled out of hot water again in the bottom of the 10th.
After getting Connor Brown on a ground out to Brick at shortstop to start the inning, Nick Testani beat out an infield hit on the first pitch.
On the next pitch, Robert Brino lined a single to right advancing Testani to second.
Jack Saunders followed with a sharp grounder to second that was juggled by Getzendanner before getting a force out at second.
With Testani at third and Saunders at first, cleanup hitter Jack Bayne popped out to first baseman Ross Kidd to end the game.
Bayne had stroked a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to plate Towson’s only two runs after Catonsville had maintained a 2-0 lead.
He scored Brown and Brino, who had both singled in the inning off Catonsville starter Joe Rubalcaba.
Rubalcaba pitched seven strong innings and allowed four hits and three walks, while striking out seven.
“After the first three innings, I had more pitches than I wanted to and I just put it in the hands of the defense and they did their job,” Rubalcaba said.
Rubalcaba threw the maximum 105 pitches allowed through seven innings.
“That’s always been my play style, just keep the pitch count down, be efficient and throw as many innings as I can,” Rubalcaba said.
The senior right-hander benefited from not pitching over Spring Break.
“I wasn’t fatigued at all,” Rubalcaba said. “I had everything today.”
Towson junior starting right hander Kyle Sulkowski was equally effective.
"My curve ball and fast ball were really working today," Sulkowski said. "I just kind of kept with those two."
He struck out 12 batters before being lifted because he hit the maximum 105-pitch count with one out in the sixth inning.
“This is the best I’ve seen him pitch all season long. He was definitely hitting his spots and he was feeling confident today,” Towson coach Brad Eastham said.
“He [Sulkowski] is one of the best guys out there,” Catonsville coach Rich Hambor said.
Sulkowski allowed leadoff hits to Will Jones (3-for-5) and Kidd (2-for-4) before striking out his last batter.
Relief pitcher Orendorff gave up a walk to Brent Johns (1-for-2, stolen base) and sacrifice fly to Ethan Alioto (1-for-3) that gave the Comets a 2-0 lead.
Catonsville manufactured its first run in the third inning.
Johns singled to open the inning and, with two outs, Getzendanner reached on an error, moving Johns to third.
Before Sulkowski released the pitch, Getzendanner got in a rundown between first and second and the Johns was safe stealing home when he slid into the ball and it flew out of play.
“We practice that. They are great at it and it was good timing,” Hambor said.
With the pitchers twirling gems, it looked like that might be the only run of the day, but the clutch hitters awoke in the late innings.
“It was a very well-played competitive game today,” Eastham said.