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Highlanders sweep weekend series

Gil Evans

The Radford University baseball team jumped to 12-6 on the season after sweeping a three- game series against the Big Red from Cornell University over the weekend.

The Highlanders went on top early and never looked back in the first game, taking it 5-2, despite four team errors.

“That was just a bad game defensively, we’re normally real solid in the field,” said Head Coach Joe Raccuia.

The offense got going in the bottom of the second inning when junior catcher Carl Travers lined a single over the shortstop’s head for an RBI. A sacrifice fly plated another run immediately after.

Cornell retaliated in the top of the fifth inning and scored their first run of the game, thanks to a seeing-eye single between first and second base off the bat of sophomore outfielder Phil Mullan.

However, RU answered in the bottom half, capitalizing on two Cornell errors.  Sophomore outfielder Cory Turner, who knocked in two of the team’s five runs, laced a single into the left-centerfield gap that ended up scoring two runs thanks to a Cornell throwing error.

The Big Red made their last noise on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth after junior infielder Frank Hager splashed a single in front of the left fielder for an RBI.

A little insurance for the Highs was added in the bottom of the seventh after Cory Turner hit a sharp grounder through the hole between first and second.

Sophomore right-hander Eddie Butler earned his team-leading third win of the season, tossing eight and one-third innings, striking out six while scattering five hits and allowing two unearned runs.

“This was my best outing of the season,” Butler said. “Before my highest pitch count was 102. Today I threw 114.”

He was finally taken out in the ninth after giving up a couple walks.

“I was a little mad at myself,” Butler said, “but my arm was getting pretty tired.”

RU kept their winning streak going in the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, taking down the Big Red 4-3.

Junior righty Mark Peterson picked up his first win in a Radford uniform, carrying a perfect game up to the seventh inning, going eight and a third and striking out eight batters.

“We had a great start from Peterson, it was too bad he couldn’t go all the way,” Raccuia said.

The Highs played a little small ball, for their first run of the game in the bottom of the second from a sacrifice fly by sophomore first baseman Ryan Burgess. RU scored a run in each of the next two innings as well with a solo homerun off the bat of junior outfielder Zach Costello in the third and a single from Costello in the fourth.

The next action came in the bottom of the eighth when RU received what would turn out to be a much-needed insurance run on a Cornell throwing error to go up 4-0.

Cornell came roaring back in their half of the ninth inning after their infielder blasted a solo homerun to spark the Big Red bats.  After piecing together a couple singles, Cornell’s outfielder and infielder followed with an RBI single each – still one run short.

“With these new bats it’s hard to score runs, but we did what we needed to do to get runs across,” Raccuia said.

In the Sunday game, which was bumped up from one in the afternoon to 11 because of “possible inclement weather,” RU took care of business, winning 6-2.

Junior infielder Matt Mack led the Highs offense coming up a homerun short of the cycle going 4-4 with two RBIs. Cory Turner also chipped in with a triple in the third inning plating two.

Senior right-hander Bobby Bolling started the game for RU, also going eight and a third. He gave up one run in the first inning and one in the last inning and collected nine strikeouts in the process.

The team takes its six-game winning streak to East Tennessee State University for a doubleheader on March 22. The next home game will be against Longwood University on March 30 at 6 p.m.

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