Webster University extended its win streak to four straight games here Wednesday as the 15th-ranked Gorloks rallied to post a 6-4 victory over ninth-ranked UMass-Boston in its fifth game of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational played at Osceola Heritage Park.
With Wednesday's win, Webster improves to 8-2 overall on the season and 4-1 on its Spring Break trip to Florida, while UMB fell to 2-4 on the year. Wednesday's game was the first of two consecutive for the Gorloks against ranked opponents as Webster will face seventh-ranked Concordia-Chicago on Thursday at Saint Leo, Fla.
In Wednesday's game, the Gorloks got outstanding starting pitching from junior Matt Mulhearn (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) as he pitched into the seventh inning and allowed 10 hits and four runs, including three in the opening inning, while walking none and fanning a season-high nine in his 107 pitch outing to move to 2-1 on the season. Of his 107 pitches, 77 of them went for strikes. On the season, Mulhearn has struck out 25 batters and walked just four in 26.1 innings of work.
Along with Mulhearn, senior reliever Adrian Santiago (Chicago, Ill./Oakton College) pitched the final three innings to earn his second save this season. In three innings, Santiago didn't allow either a hit or a run, but walked three and struck out five, including striking out the side in the ninth to seal the win.
The combined 14 strikeouts by Mulhearn and Santiago were the second most this season recorded by the Gorloks as they struck out 15 against in the second game of its doubleheader on March 1 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark against Buena Vista.
For the game, Webster collected eight hits and took advantage to three errors to score six runs, but the Gorloks left 18 runners stranded on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the second, sixth and seventh innings. In fact, Webster left at least one runner on base in all eight innings it batted.
On the night, UMass-Boston walked 13 Gorloks, including sophomore shortstop Matt Staker (El Cajon, Calif./Saint Augustine) walking in all four of his plate appearances. The four walks tied a single-game school record for the Gorloks and was the second consecutive game a Gorlok walked four times as junior All-American first baseman Kyler Kent (Pottsboro, Texas/Pottsboro) walked four times in Monday's 12-5 win over Rhode Island College.
Sophomore third baseman Ben Swords (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) and redshirt junior leftfielder A.J. Smith each had two hits and scored two runs in the win.
The first inning started poorly for the Gorloks and Mulhearn four of the first six hitters reached base on hits, including Nick Herrzog hitting a triple to left center to give the Beacons a 2-0 lead. UMB's other runs were scored on singles by Brandon Cellucci and Ryan McCormack. The hit by McCormack was his first of the season. Mulhearn would get out the inning by picking off McCormack as he tried to steal.
Webster scored its first run in the bottom of the second thanks to three walks, a wild pitch and a single up the middle by Smith to extend his hit streak to four consecutive games. In the inning, Smith led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch by J.T. Morin and after Morin walked junior catcher Joe Swanson (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine West) and Staker with two outs to load the bases, junior centerfielder Aron Hopp (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln College) drew a bases-loaded walk from Morin to score Smith and cut UMB's lead to 3-1.
The Gorloks would take over the lead in the bottom of the third inning as they sent nine hitters to the plate and scored four runs on one hit and two Beacon errors. In the inning, Swords led off with a single to extend his hit streak to 10 consecutive games and moved to second when Kent reached on a fielding error by UMB first baseman Kyle Boudrias. Morin would then walk Smith to load the bases with no outs. The walk to Smith chased Morin from the game and brought Anthony Pescara out of the pen into the game. Pescara, who would walk three of the five batters he faced, proceeded to walk senior pinch hitter Jacob Budrovich (St. Louis, Mo./Lutheran South) to bring home the first run. The next run came on on a sacrifice fly by senior second baseman Danny Strohm (St. Louis, Mo./Greenville University) that tied the game at 3. Staker would then drew a walk to reload the bases and then Hopp followed with a sacrifice fly to score the Gorloks third run and the fourth run came home when Danny Brown made a throwing error from center on Hopp's fly ball.
Webster pushed its lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth thanks three consecutive hits to lead off the inning by Swords, who opened the frame with a double, followed by singles by both Kent and Smith. Smith's single brought home Swords with Gorloks sixth run.
From that point, Webster turned the game to Mulhearn as he retired the Beacons in order in the fifth and then struck out the side in the sixth sandwiched around two hits, before allowing a leadoff double in the seventh to Charlie Huegi that ended his night on the mound.
Huegi's walk brought Santiago into the game and the first pitch he threw was a wild one and it allowed Huegi to advance to third. After the wild pitch, the game was delayed nearly 20 minutes so the lights on the field could take full effect as the field began to be covered in shadows. Once play resumed following the delay, Santiago would walk the next hitters he faced to load the bases. Boudrias atoned for his earlier error in the game by lofting a fly ball to center for a sacrifice fly that allowed Huegi to score from third and move the Beacons within 6-4. After Boudrias' sacrifice fly, Eddie Riley and Anthony Cecere would steal second and third, but those runners would be stranded when Santiago struck out Cellucci and forced Herzog to ground out to second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Webster appeared poised to break the game open as they loaded the bases thanks to a hit batsmen, an error and an intentional walk issued to Smith, but Patrick Maguire, who was the sixth Beacon pitcher of the game, got out of the bases loaded jam by forcing Strohm to pop up to second to end the inning with the bases full of Gorloks.
WU would put two more runners on base in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Swanson getting by a pitch to lead off the inning and Tholl drawing a two-out walk. Neither of those runners scored as Mike Doherty induced Swords to fly out to center to end the inning.
Santiago would strike out the first two batters in the ninth and then after walking Boudrias on four pitches, Santiago would end the game by striking out Cellucci on a 2-2 count to earn the save.
UMass-Boston had 10 hits in the loss as Cecere, Cellucci, and Brown each had two hits.
While Webster stranded 18 runners, UMB left nine runners on base and stole four bases. Additionally, the Beacons committed three errors to Webster's one error.
Morin (0-1) took the loss for the Beacons as he pitched two-plus innings and allowed three hits and four runs (three earned), while walking five and striking out two.
The Gorloks will look to make it five straight wins as they face Concordia-Chicago in an 11 a.m. EDT on Thursday, March 14 at Southard Stadium on the campus of Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Fla.
STORY COURTESY OF WEBSTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION