Despite five home runs, the Wright State baseball team dropped a heartbreaker on Friday night thanks to a walkoff grand slam from regional host Tennessee to hand the Raiders a 9-8 loss in the opening game of the NCAA Knoxville Regional.
Wright State (35-12) now turns around and plays Duke in an elimination game at 12 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils (32-21) fell 11-6 in their regional opener against Liberty earlier in the day on Friday.
Trailing 5-2 after three innings, the Raiders scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings before Quincy Hamilton’s three-run homer in the top of the seventh gave them the lead. Wright State added a solo homer off the bat of Alex Alders in the eighth to take an 8-5 advantage into the bottom of the ninth.
After a leadoff single and a fly out, Tennessee (46-16) put runners on the corners with a second single before a walk loaded the bases with one out. Austin Cline’s 0-1 pitch to Drew Gilbert was sent over the right field wall to give the hosts the walkoff victory.
The loss overshadowed a 10-hit, five homer night for the Raider offense, with both Tyler Black and Alders each connecting on two home runs to go along with Hamilton’s shot. Black finished the night 4-for-5 with three RBI, while Konner Piotto (double) and Alders each had two hits. Hamilton drew a pair of walks and scored twice, with his lone hit the three-run homer in the seventh.
Cline was saddled with the loss after only facing Gilbert in the ninth. Starter Jake Schrand allowed five runs over the opening 3.1 innings before Jake Shirk came out of the bullpen and allowed just two hits in 2.1 scoreless innings. Jay Luikart turned in 2.1 hitless innings with three strikeouts before turning the ball over to Tristan Haught to start the night. Haught allowed a pair of hits in 0.1 inning before Cline came in to face Gilbert.
Wright State got on the board in the top of the first when Black sent a fly ball towards the warning track in right field that hit off the glove of Tennessee’s Jordan Beck and over the wall for a two-run homer. Tennessee used a solo homer in the second inning for its first run before four-run third inning to take the lead.
The Raiders used a pair of solo home runs – first Black’s second shot of the night in the fourth on a no-doubter to right field before Alders went deep off the batter’s eye in center field in the fifth – the cut the deficit to one and set up the seventh. In the seventh, back-to-back singles by Piotto and Justin McConnell set up Hamilton to go over the left-center field wall for his three-run shot that gave he Raiders the lead. Alders pushed the lead to three with his second homer in the eighth, a solo shot to right-center, that set up the ninth inning.
COURTESY WRIGHT STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS