Baseball battles for 10-8 win over Richmond in first day of JU Invitational
Junior Chris Kaminski
Junior Chris Kaminski
Sophomore third baseman Jimmy Howick hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the seventh while junior RHP Chris Kaminski hurled 2.1 shutout innings of relief to lead the JU baseball team to a 10-8 win over Richmond, Friday afternoon in the first day of the JU Invitational at John Sessions.

No. 20 Oklahoma opened the day with a 12-9 win over Valparaiso.

JU (2-3) overcame deficits of 7-4 (second inning) and an 8-7 (fourth inning) to get back to its winning ways.

UR (2-2) finished with a game-high 13 hits but left 10 runners on base and failed to score in the final five innings.

“We still have a lot of things to work on but I like the fact that we are finding ways to win ballgames,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We didn’t want to face a ranked Oklahoma team with a 1-4 record so this was a big game for us. We need to take advantage of home games early on to get us where we want to be at the end of the season.”

In the bottom of the seventh, junior left fielder Chris Connelly was gunned down at the plate on a fielder’s choice to short by junior right fielder Esterlin Perozo to make the second out of the inning. The Dolphins would not be deterred as junior catcher Alex Swenson followed with a single through the right side before Howick laced a shot just inches fair down the right-field line to clear the bases.

Kaminski (1-0), who entered the game with the score tied (8-8) in the seventh, earned the win after scattering one hit while striking out four batters. Freshmen Chris Patrick and Kentrail Pierce also combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.

Senior Glenn Witkowksi got the no-decision after allowing eight runs (three earned) on 10 hits with two walks and four strikeouts in four innings.

Billy Falasco (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and a career-high tying six strikeouts. Matt Zielinski also got the no-decision after allowing seven runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in three innings.

Senior second baseman Chuck Opachich finished 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Connelly provided the power by going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Senior first baseman Alex Martinez added two doubles and two RBI while freshman Dan Gulbransen chipped in with multiple hits (double).

Cameron Brown led the Spiders offensively by going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and a game-high four RBI. Phil Ruzbarsky, Mike Mergenthaler and Andrew Lowry each finished with multiple hits.

UR took a 1-0 lead in the first when Brown hit an RBI to right field with two outs.

JU took a 4-1 advantage in the bottom of the first when Opachich tallied an RBI double down the third-base line and Connelly hit a three-run homer to left field.

The Spiders answered right back in the top of the second by registering six runs on six hits while taking advantage of a JU fielding error to take a 7-4 lead.

The Dolphins evened things up, 7-7, in the bottom of the third when Opachich hit an RBI single through the right side and Martinez hit a two-run double to left center.

UR would retake the lead, 8-7, in the top of the fourth when Brown hit a solo homer to right center with two outs.

JU tied the score once again, 8-8, in the bottom of the fourth when Opachich hit a sacrifice fly to right after Martinez led off the inning with a double down the third base line. s The Spiders looked to take the lead once again in the fifth but Adam McConnell was gunned down at the plate by junior right fielder Esterlin Perozo after a base hit through the right side by Merganthaler.

The Dolphins will return to action on Saturday at 4 p.m. against No. 20 Oklahoma (5-0), which opened with a 12-9 win over Valparaiso (0-4), in the second day of the JU Invitational. The contest can be heard live through the Sooner Radio Network or followed through live stats onto Valparaiso and Richmond will start the day at Noon.