Box Score (PDF)
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – The drama lasted until the final pitch, but St. Bonaventure found just enough to hold on for a 3-2 victory Saturday afternoon in the Atlantic 10 series finale vs. VCU at Fred Handler Park.
The Bonnies built a 3-1 lead heading for the ninth before VCU got within a run and loaded the bases in the last frame. Freshman Braydon Nelson was able to work out of the jam with no margin for error, allowing the Bonnies to take a sigh of relief as the game came to a close.
Nelson was able to preserve a well-earned victory for starter Casey Vincent (2-1) – the sophomore had his most impressive start of the season, tossing seven strong innings while allowing just a run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
St. Bonaventure would have its lead tested and then some in the ninth.
Ahead by two in the final inning, a single and a hit batter followed by a wild pitch put the tying run into scoring position with no outs. Nelson inherited two runners on and was able to get a ground out that drove in a run to put one away, but drew the Rams within one.
With runners at the corners and one down, Brett Willett chopped a ball to third. Bona had its infield drawn in and Jeff Palczewski was able to start a rundown that finally saw Liam Hibbits tagged out at third for the second out of the inning. What would have been the final out allowed the game to continue as Zac Ching struck out swinging, but reached first on a wild pitch. A hit batter loaded the bases, but Nelson coaxed a grounder back to the mound to end the game.
Bona had its chances early. In the first, Sam Fuller walked on four pitches and Mike Magnanti punched a single through the right side to put runners at first and third with no outs. Rams starter Curtis Bafus recovered to get out of the jam with no damage done, however.
In the third, a single from Ben MacDonald led off the inning before Fuller was hit by a pitch. A sac bunt from Magnanti moved two men into scoring position, but again Bafus worked out of trouble.
VCU pushed a run across in the third inning on a single from Steven Carpenter to plate the game's first tally.
The Bonnies grabbed the lead with a pair of runs in the fifth.
Fuller delivered a one-out single through the left side and a walk to Magnanti set the table for Ryan MacCarrick. The senior extended his hitting streak to 16 straight games with a single to left, bringing home Fuller for the tie. With two down, Palczewski dumped a single into center to plate the lead run for a 2-1 edge.
Sturdy Bonnies defense helped preserve that advantage in the top half of the seventh.
With the Rams threatening, Willett slapped a hit to right with Paul Witt racing from second trying to score. A strike from MacCarrick in right was slightly down the third base line, but MacDonald was able to corral it and apply the tag for the out at home. Later, with the tying run at third again, a swinging bunt from Ching with plenty of top spin created a tough play for Vincent racing toward home off the mound. Vincent barehanded the ball and threw a dart to first for the out, retiring the side.
What turned out to be the winning run scored in the seventh as a Magnanti double and MacCarrick single allowed a double play ball to score another to stretch the lead to two.
The win was career victory No. 699 for Bona's head coach Larry Sudbrook.
St. Bonaventure returns to action Tuesday at Youngstown State at 6 p.m.
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