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#3 R-MC Baseball Uses Long Balls to Beat #11 SU Twice

Mike Nickles batting
Mike Nickles

WINCHESTER, Va. - The third-ranked Randolph-Macon baseball team belted three home runs in each game of an ODAC doubleheader sweep at No. 11 Shenandoah Saturday afternoon.

The Yellow Jackets (26-4-1, 16-2 ODAC) won the opener 18-2 and took the nightcap 8-4 over the Hornets (26-8, 13-5 ODAC). R-MC remains in sole possession of first place in the conference standings, one game ahead of Virginia Wesleyan and two ahead of Roanoke. The Maroons are the final ODAC opponent for the Yellow Jackets.

Sophomore Michael Nickles (Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge) went 3 for 7 with three homers, five runs and six RBI. He went deep once in Game 1 and twice in Game 2. Nickles is second in the conference with seven dingers. Senior Joseph Tuzzolo (Newport News, Va./Menchville) was 5 for 9 with two homers, three runs and six RBI. He went deep in each game and raised his league-leading home run total to 10. Senior Rick Spiers (South Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) had a grand slam in the opener and drove in five.

In Game 1, Tuzzolo homered to lead off the top of the second to start the scoring. The Yellow Jackets went up 2-0 in the fifth as sophomore Ryan Duphorn (Erial, N.J./Paul VI) had a leadoff single, was sacrificed to second by junior Jeff Butler (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) and scored on a double by senior Cole Migliorini (Stafford, Va./Colonial Forge).

After SU tied it with two in the bottom of the fifth, R-MC reclaimed the lead in the sixth. Sophomore Reece Yeargain (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) had a leadoff single and moved to second when sophomore Cole Grinde (Woodford, Va./Caroline) walked. Nickles reached second on a throwing error on his sacrifice bunt. Grinde went to third and Yeargain scored to make it 3-2. Sophomore Zach Evans (Fort Mill, S.C./Seneca) drove home both runners with a base hit to give the visitors a 5-2 advantage. Evans moved to second when Duphorn walked and scored on a single by Migliorini to push the lead to 6-2. With Duphorn on third and Migliorini on second, Tuzzolo singled to plate both and make it 8-2. A Yeargain double brought home Tuzzolo. Following a Grinde walk, Nickles belted a three-run homer to push the advantage to 12-2.

Spiers had an RBI single in the seventh and Migliorini added a run-scoring single in the eighth before Spiers smacked a grand slam to make the final 18-2.

Migliorini finished with three hits and three RBI, while Duphorn went 2 for 3 with two walks and three runs.

Junior Colin Selby (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) fanned eight in seven innings with four hits, one earned run and two walks. He raised his record to 8-1.

In Game 2, Yeargain had an RBI double and Nickles followed with a two-run homer in the second to give R-MC a 3-0 lead. After SU plated four in the third to take a 4-3 advantage, Tuzzolo homered in the fourth to level the score at 4-4.

In the seventh, Tuzzolo had a two-out two-run single to put the Yellow Jackets on top 6-4. The Hornets put the tying runs on in the bottom of the seventh, but junior Tommy Barron (Chester, Va./Thomas Dale) coaxed a fly ball to center to end the threat.

Nickles homered in the eighth and Evans scored on an error to make the final 8-4.

Junior Nick Roth (Henrico, Va./Benedictine) picked up the win, going six innings with seven hits, four runs, one walk and four strikeouts. Senior Cody Thompson (Mechanicsville, Va./Atlee) fanned four over the final two frames to seal the sweep.

Randolph-Macon travels to Catholic (receiving votes in national poll) on Wednesday for a 3:30 p.m. contest. The final four regular-season games for the Yellow Jackets will be at home: St. Mary's on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., an ODAC doubleheader with No. 13 Roanoke on Saturday at noon, and a 3:30 p.m. contest with ninth-ranked Christopher Newport on Tuesday, May 1.