TAMPA, Fla. – Junior right-hander Tyler Anderegg struck out Mike Donato with the potential go-ahead runs on base to end the game and Army fought back from an early seven-run deficit to stun Massachusetts 12-11, Monday afternoon at the New York Yankees minor league complex.
Leading 2-1 entering the third inning, Massachusetts reached Army starter Cole White for six runs on just two hits, benefiting from four walks, a hit batsman and a fielding error. Brian Baudinet slapped a two-run single and White suffered an uncharacteristic wild streak as the senior right-hander forced in three Minuteman runs with bases-loaded walks.
But Army (3-11) chipped away at the 8-1 margin, pushing across single runs in the third and fourth innings to creep to within 8-3. Following a scoreless fifth inning, the Black Knights exploded for nine runs on five hits to forge ahead 12-8 in shocking fashion.
Junior third baseman J.P. Polchinski ignited the onslaught with a mammoth two-run home run to straightaway center field that carried the Black Knights to within 8-5. Kyle Stramara was hit by a pitch and Tony Capozzi smacked a single up the middle, sending Stramara to third. Capozzi moved to second on the play. With runners at second and third, freshman shortstop Clint Moore delivered a clutch, two-out single to left field, drawing Army to 8-7. White followed with a screaming triple to the gap in right-center field, plating Moore with the game-tying run.
Reliever Aaron Smith entered the game for Massachusetts and promptly loaded the bases by hitting Chris Simmons and Mike Greco with pitches in succession. It appeared the Smith had averted further damage, though, when Polchinski lofted a ball to right field that should have resulted in the final out of the inning. But Army caught a huge break when Donato dropped the ball, allowing all three runs to score. Polchinski advanced to second on the three-run error and scored what proved to be the game-winning run moments later when Kevin McKague ripped a single to center field for a 12-8 Black Knight advantage.
Army relievers Joey Henshaw (2.2 innings) and Matt Fouch (3.0 innings) combined to fire 5.2 innings of shutout relief after the Minutemen had grabbed their early 8-1 lead in the third inning. Those stellar mound efforts allowed for the Black Knights’ stirring comeback, yet Massachusetts would not go quietly in the ninth inning.
A hard single to left field by Garrett Glashoff and a bloop single to right by Andy Tuetken provided the Minutemen with a fast start to the top of the ninth. Kyle Multner’s run-scoring double to right-center field, delivered pinch-runner Andrew Black with the Minutemen’s ninth run and chased Fouch from the game.
One day after suffering the loss in a heartbreaking, 1-0 setback to the Minutemen, Anderegg was summoned from the Black Knights’ bullpen once again. The junior right-hander yielded a sacrifice fly to Baudinet, but Multner was thrown out trying to advance to third base on the play thanks to a pair of perfect relay throws from left fielder Caleb Love and shortstop Moore to Polchinski at third base. Love had entered the game as a defensive replacement to open the ninth inning.
With two outs, no one on base and Army clinging to a 12-10 lead, pinch-hitter Mike Gedman slapped a “humpback” liner that one-hopped the chest of Black Knight second baseman Tony Capozzi for an error. Adam Tempesta followed with a high chopper to third base that went for a single, placing runners at first and third. Cleanup hitter Jim MacDonald fisted a perfectly placed bloop just in front of Moore at shortstop for a run-scoring single that moved Massachusetts to within 12-11.
After falling behind Anderegg 1-2, Donato worked the pitching count full. Anderegg then fired a 3-2 fastball that Donato took for a called third strike to end the contest.
Moore finished with two hits, two runs scored and two runs batted in, while Polchinski went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two runs batted in to lead the Black Knights’ offensive showing. White, McKague and Capozzi added two hits apiece as well, with McKague registering two RBI and Capozzi finishing with two runs scored. Army and Massachusetts both recorded 12 hits on the day.
Fouch (1-0) yielded five hits and two runs over three innings of relief to earn the victory out of Army’s bullpen, while Anderegg notched his second save of the season by preserving the victory. He permitted two infield singles and one unearned run during his one inning of work.
Massachusetts reliever Ryan Walczak (0-1) shouldered the loss for Massachusetts, surrendering a two-run single to Moore and the game-tying RBI triple to White, the only two batters he faced. Both runners would eventually score on Donato’s misplay in right field later in the decisive sixth inning.
“I’m just really proud of the way our men battled back today,” said Army head coach Joe Sottolano. “We have not played well to this point in the season and it would have been very easy for them to go down quietly after falling behind 8-1. We showed a lot of mental toughness and really pulled together. The relief pitching of Joey Henshaw, Matt Fouch and Tyler Anderegg this win possible. We’ll look to build on today’s performance the remainder of the season.”
Army returns to action on Thursday evening, squaring off against Ohio State at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.