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Cougars Drop Midweek Game to Urbana 16-9

The Cougars hosted Urbana University (Ohio) on Tuesday evening at Frank Tack Park for a midweek game. Clearwater was looking to bounce back into the win column and sent freshman Wade Irwin to the hill.

Irwin got into some trouble in the top of the first after the Blue Knights third baseman Drew Ryan led off the game with a single, followed by second baseman Tyler Nehls single of his own. Catcher Robert Tavone Jr. recorded an RBI as he knocked in Ryan on a sacrifice fly to center field. First baseman Greg Liming hit an RBI double, scoring Nehls, giving Urbana a 2-0 lead.

After a leadoff walk in the top of the second inning, left fielder Joe Vargas and Drew Ryan both reached on bunt singles. Irwin induced a groundball to third baseman Jake Reidy who got the force out at home, saving a run. Tavone Jr. hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, this time to left field, scoring Vargas. Liming collected his second RBI of the game, after a throwing error by the Cougars short stop Justin Capela, extending the Blue Knights lead to 4-0.

Clearwater bounced right back in the bottom half of the second, as junior Noel Thomas led off the inning with a walk. Capela reached base on a fielders choice, keeping a runner at first with one out. The next two hitters, junior Jon Rivera and freshman Peter Liloia, both reached on free passes. With two outs and the bases loaded, junior Jefte Velez didn't waste much time extending his hitting streak to nine games, lacing a ground ball single that knocked in Capela and Rivera, cutting the Blue Knights lead to 4-2. Freshman catcher Caleb Jordan then singled scoring Liloia and collecting an RBI. Freshman Jake Reidy also extended his hitting streak to nine games in his second at bat of the game, hitting an RBI single that scored Velez, tying the game at 4-4. Urbana's starting pitcher Bill Geeslin retired Felten on strikes, ending the inning, and stranding both Jordan and Reidy.

With the score knotted at 4-4 in the top of the fourth, the Blue Knights were able to put across two runs, and after two walks issued by Irwin to start the inning, Greg Liming struck again, hitting an RBI single. Center fielder Aaron Bingham collected the other RBI of the inning on a single of his own, making it a 6-4 game.

Vargas got things going again for Urbana in their half of the fifth, leading off with a single. He moved to second on a hit by pitch issued to Ryan, stole third, and then scored on a ground out off the bat of teammate Tyler Nehls.

Capela, who had a 3-5 day, led off the Cougars sixth inning with a single. Rivera reached on an error, and advanced Capela to second. Liloia moved over Capela and Rivera on a sac bunt, putting them at second and third with one out. Freshman Chris Zweifach collected an RBI on a groundout to first base, scoring Capela, cutting the deficit to 7-5.

Trailing by two heading into the seventh, Reidy collected one of his three hits as he led off the inning with a single. Felten bounced into a fielders choice, taking Reidy off the bases, but keeping a runner on first. Thomas followed with a walk, and then Capela singled again. Rivera collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly, making it a 7-6 game.

After battling back, the Cougars found themselves in another hole, allowing four runs in the eighth, giving up three hits, three free passes, and an error.

Trailing 11-6 in the bottom of the eighth, Thomas drove in Velez, making it 11-7. The Cougars stranded three baserunners in the inning, after Rivera struck out looking.

Urbana had another big inning in the ninth, scoring five runs on three hits, two free passes, and an error, extending their lead to 16-7.

In the bottom half of the ninth, Zweifach led off the inning with a double, and eventually scored on a passed ball. The Cougars scratched another run across after four straight free passes, and Thomas picked up his second RBI of the game, cutting Urbana's lead to 16-9. The Cougars stranded three baserunners again in the ninth, as Capela struck out swinging on a pitch from relief pitcher Josh Gratsch to end the game.

Irwin (1-2) got the loss after completing six innings of work, walking five, allowing ten hits, and six earned runs.

Junior Kyle Baitz threw a scoreless seventh inning.

Capela and Reidy both had 3-5 days at the plate, and Jordan went 2-4 with an RBI.

The Cougars drop to 5-14 and Urbana is now 6-2.

Clearwater will host two time defending NCCAA DII national champions on Thursday evening for the conference opener in a double header slated for a 5:00pm start at Frank Tack Park. The second game will follow thirty minutes after the first.

Notes: This was the first meeting between Clearwater and Urbana, and Urbana holds a 1-0 record...the Blue Knights scored nine runs in the last two innings...Zweifach has recorded a base hit in a career high eight straight games...Reidy and Velez both extend their career high hitting streaks to nine games...Thomas was walked three times, while seven of the nine Cougars starters reached on a walk...Urbana collected seventeen hits and six stolen bases...Clearwater stranded fifteen baserunners...Capela matched a career high of three hits in a game.