EWING, N.J. – Something about playing nationally ranked opponents seems to agree with the Ursinus College baseball team.
The Bears squandered a three-run lead in the ninth inning but bounced back to score twice in the 11th and hung on for a 7-5 victory at No. 7 TCNJ, improving to 3-0 against teams in the top-25 of Division III this season.
Junior Alex Mumme broke the school record for RBI in a season (43) with a solo home run – his 12th of the season – in the first inning for Ursinus (18-14), which got the last week of the regular season off to a flying start with another signature victory to pair with a sweep of then-No. 11 Johns Hopkins earlier this month. Freshman Jon Moldoff also notched his 43rd RBI after drivng in a pair to match Mumme, who has already established new standards for home runs and runs in a single campaign.
Already leading 1-0 after Mumme's round-tripper, the Bears worked some two-out magic in their next at-bat. Junior Kyle Supran and senior Alex Soriano drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for junior Dom Fiorentino, who lined a base hit into center field to plate a pair and extend the advantage to 3-0.
TCNJ (25-6) scored two runs in the third, but a deep group of Bear relievers combined to keep the home side off the scoreboard until the ninth. Freshman Luke Verga delivered three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit after coming on for fellow rookie A.J. Palumbo in the fourth.
Senior Aidan Rogers pitched a scoreless seventh before giving way to freshman Ryan Schwab, who came on to put up a goose egg in the eighth. The Bears appeared to be in good shape when junior Mike Stanziale homered to lead off the ninth, making it 5-2, but the Lions roared back to tie in their final at-bat.
After freshman Andrew Hartman kept TCNJ off the board in the 10th, Ursinus went ahead for good with two runs in the 11th. Fiorentino was hit by a pitch and went to second on a passed ball in front of Mumme, who was intentionally walked. Senior Carter Usowski advanced both runners with a sacrifice, and the Lions looked to be out of the jam when sophomore Jerry Scavone swung at strike three. But the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Scavone to reach safely and Fiorentino to dash home with the go-ahead run. Moldoff followed with an RBI single up the middle for a big insurance tally.
Tasked with closing out the win, sophomore Casey Fitzsimmons got some help from his defense when Mumme threw out the Lions' leadoff man after a base hit to right to start the inning. The left-hander came back to retire the next two in order, including a strikeout, to slam the door for his first career save. The final out clinched the first career win for Hartman, who struck out two in a perfect 10th.
Usowski finished 3-for-5 and sophomore Connor Barrett went 3-for-6 for the Bears, while Stanziale was 2-for-2 with his second homer of the season and the fourth of his career. Mumme scored three times.
The Bears return to Thomas Field for the final playoff push and the first leg of a huge doubleheader with Franklin & Marshall. Ursinus is one game behind Haverford for fourth place in the Centennial Conference and trails the third-place Diplomats by two games.