COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Freshman pitcher Nolan Graber earned his first career collegiate victory while tossing six shutout innings in relief to lead the Ursinus baseball team to an 8-2 victory over Immaculata in the season's home opener at Thomas Field.
Graber got the call from the bullpen for the Bears (4-8) to start the fourth inning after senior starter Steve DiStefano's three innings of work. Graber inherited a 3-2 lead over the Mighty Macs (5-10).
From the first pitch, the right-hander consistently worked in the strike zone, fanning five hitters while only throwing 76 pitches – 57 of those being strikes. The Upper Perkiomen product sailed through five perfect innings until yielding only a hit and a walk in the last frame. DiStefano and Graber combined to give up two runs (one of which was unearned) three hits, and two free passes to go along with seven strikeouts.
To begin the game's scoring, the Mighty Macs plated two runs in the second inning. Ursinus scored its first run of the game in the third inning when freshman catcher Tom Jacobs crossed the plate on sophomore right fielder Dom Fiorentino's fielder's choice to the first baseman. Junior second baseman Carter Usowski then ripped a double to the center field fence to knock in both Fiorentino and sophomore third baseman Alex Mumme.
The Bears didn't look back after taking the 3-2 lead. Mumme, Ursinus' leading hitter, singled home another run in the fifth to start a four-run flurry. The Bears took advantage of two Immaculata errors in the frame and six overall in the game; two runs scored when the Mighty Macs right fielder dropped a fly ball off the bat of freshman Connor Barrett with two outs.
Ursinus tacked on another run in the eighth inning on senior center fielder Travis Kozak's sacrifice fly to right field which plated freshman Jerry Scavone, who came on as a pinch-hitter to lead off the inning. Scavone made the Mighty Macs pay with a single to left field after a dropped ball in foul territory extended his at-bat. He then advanced to second on a throwing error before coming around to score on Kozak's sacrifice fly.
Graber was electric in his first extended action, striking out five against only one hit and one walk in six dominant frames. DiStefano allowed two runs – one earned – on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.
Kozak and Usowski led the offense for the Bears with two hits each. Fiorentino and Mumme each scored two runs to lead Ursinus to victory.
Ursinus plays host to Gwynedd Mercy for a 3:30 p.m. game at Thomas Field on Thursday.