LAKELAND, Fla.—After trailing Mount Vernon Nazarene University 5-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, it seemed as if Southeastern’s 19-game win streak would be snapped; however, the Fire were able to rally in dramatic fashion, pushing across the final run in the bottom half of the ninth to defeat MVNU 7-6.
The Cougars stunned the Fire with a quick offensive start. A walk and a bunt single by the initial two batters of the contest gave MVNU life early in the first. With two runners on, Jesse Staudt sent a ball over the left field fence to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead before SEU could record a single out. The longball was the right fielder’s fourth in six games this season.
The Cougars extended their advantage to five with a two-out two-RBI single by Drew Ritchey.
Not only were the bats alive, but the defense for MVNU was stout the first half of the competition. Mount Vernon pitcher Trenton Wood was dealing through five innings. He tossed 5.2 scoreless frames, fanning seven batters and giving up four hits in the process, but would struggle getting the final out of the sixth.
It was following a scoreless five and two-thirds innings that the Fire were finally able to get to Wood. SEU doubled its hit count in the inning, registering four base knocks in the frame alone, three of which came with two outs.
After Adam De La Cruz singled and Marvin Malone reached on a hit-by-pitch, the Fire worked some two-out magic. Dan Valerio singled in De La Cruz to get Southeastern on the board. Vince Volpatti, who hadn’t recorded an extra base hit all season, then launched his second double of the night to right-center to plate Malone and Valerio. Volpatti finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
With the score 5-3, and still two outs in the half inning, Volpatti scored on a throwing error by MVNU. After Marcus Stump singled, which advanced Keiner Colmenarez to third, Manuel Mesa beat out a throw on a grounder to third to tie the ballgame at five going into the seventh.
Smart baserunning would give Southeastern the lead in the bottom of the eighth, as Valerio singled, stole second and third, and crossed on a wild pitch to put SEU up 6-5 with three outs to go.
The Cougars responded to stay alive after being down to their final strike with a double by Chris Kline, followed by a single to left that got through the 5-6 gap and tied the game once again.
However, Southeastern would answer in an impressive way. Mesa, De La Cruz and Malone all reached base to start the final half inning, setting the stage for Ivan Nunez. The junior from Miami singled to right, which allowed Mesa to score easily from third, capping off the monumental comeback.
With the 7-6 victory, the Fire extended their program-best start to 20-0. Southeastern will put its perfect record on the line again when the team faces Judson University in a three-game series. The first game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday night at Ted A. Broer Stadium.