LEBANON — The McKendree University baseball team rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to register a 5-4 victory Tuesday at home over the Maryville University Saints in non-conference play. The Bearcats were playing in their first game of the 2014 season at Hypes Field in the come-from-behind effort.
Freshman outfielder Grant Anderson capped the dramatic comeback with a walk-off infield single to plate junior third baseman Jake Kline with the winning run. Moments earlier, Kline tied the game at 4-4 with a two-out RBI single up the middle. McKendree improves to 2-2 on the year and will host Harris-Stowe State University in another non-conference tilt at Hypes Field. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
With McKendree trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, senior catcher Tyler Collins led off with a single down the right field line. Two batters later, junior outfielder Kyle Rutledge doubled off the right-field fence, moving Collins to third base with one out. Senior outfielder Steven Todoschuk brought Collins home with a sacrifice fly to center field to cut the deficit down to 4-3.
Kline stepped up next for McKendree and ripped an 0-1 pitch back past Maryville pitcher Brandon Sarkissian and into center field to plate Rutledge with the tying run. Freshman infielder Zach Klockowski was hit by a pitch and junior outfielder Bryce Harre (Nashville) drew a walk to load the bases, setting up Anderson's game-winning hit. Anderson hit a hard grounder deep in the hole between short and third base, and all runners advanced safely to give the Bearcats the victory.
McKendree grabbed a 2-0 lead with single runs in the second and third innings. In the second, junior first baseman Jeff Tolliver laced a one-out double off the center field fence. Sophomore Sam Lidisky (Althoff Catholic) came on as a pinch-runner and promptly moved to third on a Maryville balk. Lidisky then scored on a wild pitch to give the Bearcats an early lead.
Rutledge made it 2-0 in the third inning with a solo home run over the left field fence. The blast was McKendree's first round-tripper of the season.
Maryville (2-4) answered with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the contest at 2-2. The Saints then scored twice in the seventh inning to grab a 4-2 advantage. That score stood until the Bearcats' heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
Freshman right-hander Jacob Renfrow started for McKendree and pitched well in his collegiate debut. Renfrow allowed one unearned run on just three hits with a walk and a strikeout over five innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Matt Sax, the third Bearcat pitcher of the afternoon, worked the final 2 2/3 innings to earn the win in relief. Sax retired eight of the nine batters he faced for his first victory of 2014.
Klockowski finished the contest with three hits to lead an 11-hit attack for McKendree. Rutledge added two hits and a pair of runs.