The Rhode Island Rams baseball team managed just one win in four tries against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles over the weekend in their opening series of the season. Rhody suffered their first loss of the season on Friday before splitting Saturday’s double-header. Sunday’s finale saw URI fall once again as bullpen and late-inning execution issues crept up in nearly every game. It’s something Coach Foster is going to have to sort through, but he has plenty of time. The season just started, after all. For now, the Rams sit at 1-3 on the year as they continue on their season-opening 12-game road trip.
Game one saw Rhode Island’s ace Tyler Bowditch face off against Michael Murray for FGCU. Both teams has their chances to jump on top through the first five innings, but it was Rhody who broke through first. Despite not getting a single ball out of the infield, the Rams took advantage of two of Florida Gulf Coast errors and plated a pair of runs to jump on top 2-0. But Bowditch allowed the first three Eagles to reach base in the bottom of the sixth and he was lifted in favor of Brendan Doonan. But the junior failed to record an out, allowing all three base runners to cross the plate as FGCU took a 3-2 lead. URI battled back to tie things at three, but the bullpen couldn’t keep the Eagles in check. Nick Narodowy and Blaise Whitman combined to allow four seventh inning runs as Florida Gulf Coast picked up a 7-3 victory.
Saturday’s double-header saw the Rams get pretty much shut down in game one. FGCU starter Nick Deckert stranded six URI base runners en route to five shut-out innings, and got plenty of help from his offense in a 7-1 Florida Gulf Coast win. Steve Moyers took the loss for Rhode Island as he allowed three runs over five innings. The sophomore only allowed three hits, but his five walks came back to bite him. Once again, the bullpen wasn’t stellar. Milan Mantle finished off the final three innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out none.
The Rams found their way into the win column in the second game of the double-header, but it wasn’t without some drama. URI’s bullpen nearly blew a 6-3 lead and four Rhody errors led to four unearned runs, but they held on to pick up a 6-5 win. Rhode Island starter Lou Distasio picked up the win and Brad Applin snagged a three-inning save in the victory. Freshman Martin Taveras led the way on offense, going 3-4 with a double, a walk, two RBI and two runs scored.
Game four had another URI lead slip away in the later innings. The Rams took a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning, but Rhode Island starter Ty Sterner slipped up in sixth and the bullpen couldn’t bail him out. Ben Wessel entered the game for Sterner in a tough spot, but a two-run double from FGCU’s Andrew Valencia capped the scoring as Rhody fell 4-3 in the finale.
The Eagles are a tough team for sure, but it was a little frustrating to see URI let a few wins slip through their fingers. But if there’s one bright spot, it was Rhode Island shortstop Tim Caputo. He went 4-5 in the season opener, and that was only the beginning. The junior finished off the weekend going 9-16 (.562) with two doubles, two RBI, and four runs scored. He four-game hitting streak will be on the line when the Rams head to the College of Charleston this weekend for a three-game series. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m.