Wiley Wildcats Overpower St. Mary In Home Opener

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Playing in front of their home fans for the first time in 2019, the Wiley College baseball team took an early lead in the opening game and rode it to an 11-2 victory and rallied in the second game to defeat University of St. Mary 9-5 on Friday at Coker Field.

The victories mark the first time the Wildcats have opened the season with four consecutive wins since 2015. The second game was Wiley College’s first come-from-behind victory of the season. It had nine comeback wins last season.

The Wildcats (4-0) scored 11 runs on 14 hits in the first game. Four players had multiple hits led by Dominic Tezeno (SO/Orange, Texas) and Luis Santiago (JR/Salinas, Puerto, Rico) – who each had three. Tezeno scored three runs and stole two bases. Santiago drove in three runs and scored twice.

“Tezeno and Santiago are going really good right now,” head coach Kendrick Biggs said. “We’ve looked at several different ways to do the lineup. I think right now, we have really productive lineup with speed. If we continue to execute, we are going to be tough to beat.”

Brandon Bilnoski (SR/Marshall, Texas) earned his first win of the season after tossing five innings. He gave up two runs on four hits while striking out four. Carlos Torres (SO/Winter Haven, Florida) made his first appearance on the mound and limited the Spires to two hits. He struck out three.

In the first game, the Wildcats scored two runs in the first inning – making it the third consecutive game which they have scored in their first at-bat. With one out, Dominic Tezeno hit a hard line drive off the pitcher’s glove and reached base. He stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Luis Santiago drove him in with a double in the left-center field gap. Santiago advanced on an errant pickoff throw. He came home on a wild pitch.

Wiley College exploded for six runs in the third inning – sending 11 batters to the plate. Manuel Torres(SO/Winter Haven, Florida) and Tyler Baumann (SR/Houston, Texas) started the inning with singles. They advanced on a bunt single by Tezeno. St. Mary’s third baseman overthrew the first baseman – which allowed Manuel Torres to score and Christian Biggs (FR/Tatum, Texas) – who was Baumann’s courtesy runner and Tezeno advanced an extra base. Santiago singled home Biggs. Justice Brown(SR/Sugarland, Texas) followed with a RBI double to score Tezeno. Ruben Hancock (JR/Sugarland, Texas) followed with a two-RBI double to bring home Santiago and Brown. With one out, Hancock scored on a single by Breon Ector (SR/Kilgore, Texas).

St. Mary got on the board in the fourth inning. Daunte Freeman led off the inning with a single to center and stole second. With two outs, Bilnoski walked two batters to load the bases. Alexis Ramos drove in Freeman and David Ramirez.

The Wildcats answered in the bottom half. Tezeno led off with a single and scored on Santiago’s second double. Wiley College added two runs in the fifth. Darian Fleming (SR/Beaumont, Texas) singled with one out. Ector followed with his second hit of the game. Manuel Torres reached on an error. An errant throw scored Fleming. Baumann hit a sacrifice fly to score Ector.

In the second game the Wildcats tallied nine runs on eight hits – with four going for extra bases. Hancock was 2-for-2 with a RBI double to bring in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. He scored later in the inning.

Jon Michael Roberson (SO/Roma, Texas) was able to overcome control issues to pick up his first victory. He escaped two bases loaded situations – including the top of the fifth to keep it a one-run game. In five innings he gave up four runs on six hits. He struck out five.

Wiley College fell behind in the second inning after giving up three runs on three hits. Roberson struck out Ramos but the ball went to the backstop and Ramos reached first. Antonio Valentin advanced Ramos with a double. Gonzales put the Spires in front with a two-RBI double to deep right field. He would later score on a double by Freeman.

After leaving a pair of base runners in the second, the Wildcats fought back in the third. Manuel Torresled off with a walk. Baumann moved him into scoring position with a single. Tezeno put the Wildcats on the board with a double to the right-center field gap. Santiago cut the lead to one with a sacrifice fly to left – scoring Timmie Russell (FR/Houston, Texas) who served as Baumann’s courtesy runner. On a grounder by Brown, Tezeno scored to tie the game.

“We don’t really want to fall behind,” Biggs said. “It gave us a chance to see how the guys were going to react to being behind – whether we were going to give up or fight. We kept fighting and found a way. Once we got going good things happened.”

St. Mary retook the lead in the fourth inning. Roberson hit two consecutive hitters. With two outs, David Ramirez singled to left to bring home Bryan Fuentes.

The Wildcats’ bats came to life in the fifth inning – as they tallied six runs on five hits. Baumann led off by being hit by a pitch. Russell advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a single. Brown drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left. Executing a hit-and-run, Santiago scored from first on a double by Hancock – which went to the left-center field gap. The two-out rally continued as Markus Garza (JR/Angleton, TX) traded places with Hancock after hitting a double down the left-field line. Manuel Torres capped off the inning with a three-run double with the bases loaded.

The series will conclude tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at noon.

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