Wheaton jumps out in front early during opener, fends off Cortland, 8-5

Wheaton jumps out in front early during opener, fends off Cortland, 8-5

AUBURNDALE, Fla. - Wheaton College baseball sophomore Eric Jensen's (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) first-inning solo home run gave the Lyons the lead for good against State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland on Sunday afternoon, as Wheaton led 7-0 en route to an 8-5 victory during its season opener in a battle of nationally-ranked teams at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex.

Wheaton entered today's action ranked 21st nationally by D3baseball.com, while the Red Dragons, who are now 3-4 on the season, stand 18th in the country.

Jensen turned in an impressive offensive showing, going 4-for-6 with four RBI, while junior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) matched Jensen's hit total while scoring twice.  Each also banged out a double.  Senior Tad Skelley (Wolfeboro, N.H./Holderness School) was 2-for-4 with three runs, sophomore Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) had two hits, two walks, a double and a steal, while senior Sean Munley (Ewing, N.J./The Hun School of Princeton) drew a pair of walks.

Sophomore Corey Laliberte (Fall River, Mass./B.M.C. Durfee) fired six shutout innings, allowing just four hits with one strikeout and two walks.  Wheaton used three relievers, with freshman Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Avon Old Farms School) closing things out in the ninth, as he entered the game with one runner on before retiring three of the four batters he faced.

In the top half of the first inning, Jensen jumped on the second pitch he saw, sending his blast over the left field fence.  Ryan followed with a two-bagger and eventually scored on consecutive wild pitches.  The Blue and White made the score 3-0 in the second when Landers began a two-out rally with a double before being plated by Jensen's base knock into left.

Wheaton combined for four runs and nine hits between the sixth and seventh frames to extend its lead to 7-0.  Skelley came home on a wild pitch in the sixth, and Jensen brought Landers around with a chopper over the shortstop.  An RBI single by Landers in the seventh made the score 6-0 before Jensen's double to left center pushed the Lyons' seventh run across.

Cortland State got on the scoreboard in the home half of the seventh and eventually narrowed its deficit to three thanks to a three-run eighth but got caught stealing to end the threat.  Each team picked up a run in the ninth to complete the scoring.

Wheaton heads to Lake Sumter Community College tomorrow to face Rowan University at 11:00 a.m.