PROVIDENCE, RI – The offense continues to hum along for the Johnson & Wales University baseball team. The Wildcats took a GNAC doubleheader on Saturday off Rivier by capturing the opener 17-1 then winning game two 5-2.
Rivier: 1-13, 0-2 GNAC
Johnson & Wales: 11-6, 4-0 GNAC
The tone was set for an offensive explosion in the bottom of the first when Rob Ballinger (South Kingstown, RI) hit the first home run of his career. It's the first JWU dinger since Ty Karalis hit one against Anna Maria on April 30 of last year. Ballinger's round tripper is the first at home by a Wildcat since Andrew Hunton hit a homer against St. Joseph's on April 16, 2015.
Ivan Reyes (Cranston, RI) added a two-run double in the first and Dave Matthews (Newtown, Conn.) poked a two-run single in the second as the Wildcats got out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. Edison Mercado (Providence, RI) capped a seven-run sixth inning with a two-run double.
The Raiders broke through for their first run in the third inning of game two to tie the contest at 1-1. Johnson & Wales got all the runs it needed without a base hit in the fifth. Mercado was walked with the bases loaded then Rivier starter Kyle Flanagan hit both Armani Henderson (Johnston, RI) and Joe Maracic (Syosset, NY) to give JWU a 4-1 lead.
Both JWU starting pitchers had strong outings. In the opener, sophomore Brandon Budlong (Cranston, RI) gave up one earned run on five hits with seven strikeouts. James Smiegocki (Lambertville, NJ) surrendered two runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings of work in the nightcap. Rich Marshall (Pawtucket, RI) got the final four outs for his second save.
Johnson & Wales is back at home on Sunday to face St. Joseph's in a 1 p.m. doubleheader.