RICHMOND, Va. – The University of Dayton baseball team will advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship Game for the second-consecutive season after knocking off Rhode Island 3-1 in an elimination game on Friday afternoon. The Flyers take on VCU, needing two wins against the Rams to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.
Dayton will look to win the Atlantic 10 Championship for the first time since 2012, and the team improves to 24-26 on the season with the victory, using an eight-inning, one-run performance from graduate student R.J. Wagner to carry the team to the win.
Wagner picked up his first win of the season in the biggest game to this point of the season for Dayton, keeping Rhode Island’s offense at bay once Dayton took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Junior Benjamin Blackwell led the team with two hits in the contest and senior Riley Tirotta and junior Jay Curtis each drove in a run for UD in the contest.
ON THE MOUND
With the Flyers facing both elimination as well as a potential for two games Saturday, Wagner came up big for Dayton, saving much of UD’s pitching staff in the longest outing of his five-year career at the university. The Zionsville, Ind., native’s previous long came on March 24, 2019 in a seven-inning outing against Saint Louis. Against the Rams on Friday, Wagner allowed just four hits and struck out six, a season high.
Senior Jonathan Brus entered in the ninth for Dayton, recording the first out of the inning before graduate student Justin Longbrake finished the contest, earning his second save of the season. Longbrake got the only two batters he faced in the game to ground out, securing a trip to the title game for Dayton.
Top 1: (2-0 Flyers)
Junior Marcos Pujols started a two-out rally with a double to left field, scoring on a single by Tirotta. Tirotta advanced to second on the throw and would steal third and score on a throwing error by the Rhode Island catcher, giving Dayton an early 2-0 lead on Friday.
Bottom 1: (2-1 Flyers)
Back-to-back singles led to lead off the inning put two Rams on. A fly out to right field moved a runner to third and that runner would score on a fielder’s choice on the next play, cutting the lead to one run.
Top 6: (3-1 Flyers)
Graduate student Chris Cabrera reached on a one-out walk, and a walk to graduate student Eddie Pursinger put two on with two outs for Curtis. The Dayton catcher singled to left field adding an insurance run for the Flyers and finishing the scoring for the contest, securing the win for Dayton.
The Flyers will return Saturday, needing to win two-straight games against VCU. The first game is scheduled to start at 12 p.m.
COURTESY DAYTON ATHLETICS