It has been the story of the season for the Hofstra Pride baseball team – strong pitching, quiet bats and one nightmare inning. Friday’s series opener against conference rival Towson followed the same script.
Ten players from the Tiger’s batted in an endless sixth inning, compiling six runs on eight consecutive hits – seven of which were singles – as Hofstra fell to Towson, 10-2. The loss was Hofstra’s third in CAA play, dropping them to 1-3.
“You’ve got to tip your cap to Towson, they beat us in every phase of the game,” said head coach John Russo after his team dropped their fourth game in a row. “They out hit us, they out pitched us and they had better defense. They just played better and everything was about Towson baseball.”
The Tigers got off to a roaring start when New York native Richard Miller delivered a two-run home run, which narrowly missed the scoreboard in right-center field in the opening frame. Miller finished 3-for-4 on the afternoon, pushing his batting average to .345 – good for eighth best in the conference.
Much like the rest of their week has gone, Towson’s bats never stopped hitting as they finished with 10 hits. Miller’s home run was Towson’s seventh of the week after entering the week with just seven on the season. They have scored at least 10 runs in each of the last three games.
“I just think they’re really confident right now,” said Russo. “You’re talking about a team that scored 28 runs this week and then put up another 10 (Friday) with 19 hits. They’re just rolling hot right now.”
Down 2-0, the Pride battled back in the frigid and damp Hempstead air. Teddy Cillis escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam on the mound in the third, which sparked the lineup in the bottom half.
After Vinny Costello and Sean Rausch singled to start the inning, Brad Witkowski grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with one out. Steven Foster – who entered the game with five hits in his previous eight at bats – grounded into another fielder’s choice to trim Towson’s lead to 2-1.
In the ensuing inning, the Tigers grinded out three consecutive singles to plate their third run of the game. With hopes to keep the game in reach, Mikey Riesner was hit by a pitch and came home on an RBI double from Cillis in the bottom of the fourth.
It became a back and forth affair in the fifth when Towson re-established their two run advantage to make it a 4-2 game. With a home run already under his belt, Miller singled to left field and came around to score on Cuinn Mullins’ single to right.
Cillis battled and lasted just over four innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs while striking out six. He remains winless on the season at 0-5 but showed signs of progression according to his coach.
“I liked Teddy today, one thing you’re going to get from him – he’s going to battle and he’s going to compete,” said Russo. “I felt he did a little bit too much, and threw too hard at times but I really have no complaints. I thought he had decent stuff.”
The problem was, Towson’s starter Dean Stramara had more than decent stuff. The sophomore right-hander allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out six over a career-high eight innings of work.
“(Stramara) forced a lot of weak swings. He was really good,” said Russo. “But, we’ve got to get going offensively at some point. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to start getting hits as a team.”
Hofstra was held to two or fewer runs for the 13th time this season. They look to snap their four game losing streak, Saturday afternoon in game two of the series.