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Tigers travel to Navy

5 March 2014 By Jesse Jones, Sports Editor No Comments

Coming off of a 2-1 weekend in which Towson defeated West Point and Albany before losing a 5-4 game against Campbell, the Tigers will now travel just 45 miles south to Annapolis to participate in the Naval Academy Tournament.

The Tigers (6-3) will play three games in the tournament. On Friday, Towson will face Monmouth before taking on Penn Saturday and closing the weekend with a matchup against host Navy on Sunday.

The Tigers looks to be the favorites heading into the weekend, as all three opponents have a combined record of just 4-14.

Towson will kick things off against the Monmouth Hawks, who sit at 1-5 on the season, most recently suffering a three-game sweep to
No. 1 Virginia.

Outfielder Steve Wilgus leads the way for the Hawks at the plate. The junior has started all six games for Monmouth this season and has a batting average of .480 and slugging percentage of .600. Senior
infielder Jake Gronsky is the only other Hawk batting above .300, holding an average of .316.

On the mound, Towson will likely face senior Andrew McGee. The lefthander is 1-1 on the year with 3.46 earned runs allowed. As a team, the Hawks have allowed 32 runs this season.

Senior Chris Acker will pitch for the Tigers against the Hawks. The right-hander, who sat out most of last season with an arm injury, earned his first win of the season against West Point last weekend and has an ERA of just 1.26 in 14.1 innings of work.

“I feel like my level of focus is a lot higher than it has been in the past,” Acker said. “It was hard to sit and watch last year, and it made me realize how fast an injury can end something you love to do. I’m happy to have recovered properly and I’m trying to take full advantage of it.”

On Saturday, Towson will face a Penn team that has lost its first three games on the season, including a 19-2 loss to Dallas Baptist.

The Quakers have two players batting over .300, as both junior catcher Austin Bossart senior infielder Rick Brebner are both hitting .333. The two also have two of Penn’s four home runs this season.

Junior righthander Connor Cuff is the only starter for Penn who has not allowed an earned run. Junior lefthander Ronnie Glenn has an ERA of 9.00, and junior righthander Dan Gautieri has an ERA of 27.00.
The Quakers have given up 28 runs so far this season.

With regular Saturday starter Nick Cioffi out for the Tigers, freshman Bruce Zimmermann, who started the first two Sundays of the season, took the mound last Saturday. Zimmermann earned his second win of
the season and is 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA.

When Towson takes the mound against Navy on Sunday, the Tigers will be facing another team that has given up 30 runs this season.

Only one of the Midshipmen’s starters has a winning record, as junior lefthander Anthony Parenti has a 3-0 record and a 0.92 ERA. Junior righthander Stephan Moore is 0-2 on the season with a 1.89 ERA, and
sophomore lefthander Luke Gillingham is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

Towson’s offense should continue to excel this weekend against three teams with inferior pitching. Junior outfielder Peter Bowles continues his stellar season at the plate, holding a batting average of .433, a
slugging percentage of .500 and is second on the team with six runs batted in. Junior first baseman Brendan Butler also has six RBIs, while senior designated hitter Kurt Wertz leads the team with seven.

Senior outfielder/pitcher Brandon Gonnella leads the team with nine runs scored and two saves, and has not given up a run in 7.2 innings of relief.

“We have a lineup full of experience,” Bowles said. “We feel as a team that anyone 1-9 in the order is capable of starting a rally or getting a big hit. Our pitchers have been outstanding. That makes it a lot easier for us to just relax at the plate.”

Defensively, an arm injury to senior shortstop Hunter Bennett has forced Head Coach Mike Gottlieb to switch around the infield.

Despite his injury, Bennett is still second on the team in batting with an average of .333.

“It really hasn’t affected my swing motion, just my throwing motion, so hitting has been normal,” Bennett said of his jury.

The Tigers will start the weekend series Friday at 10:30 a.m.

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