SPARTANBURG, SC – The George Mason baseball team used team efforts in both of its games on Saturday, earning a 14-4 victory over Morehead St. and a 7-0 shutout victory over USC Upstate to open the season with a 2-0 record in Spartansburg, SC.
The Patriots won their first two games of the season for the first time since 2010 and scored a combined 21 runs in the efforts, also the most since 2010 when Mason scored a combined 28 in in victories over Northwestern and Marist.
Mason put runs on the board first in both contests, including in the 14-4 victory over Morehead St. Seniors Chris Cook and John Leemhuis did not waste any time against the Eagles, leading off the game with back-to-back doubles over the centerfielder's head to give Mason a quick 1-0 lead.
Mason increased the lead in the fourth inning after senior Blaise Fernandez used a throwing error and a passed ball to reach second base, where redshirt senior Anthony Montefusco would single up the middle in the next at bat to plate the second run of the ballgame. An additional run would score in the top of the second when sophomore Brandon Gum singled to bring home senior Mick Foley for a 3-0 lead after four innings.
A big fifth inning for the Patriots started off when junior transfer Luke Willis singled to centerfield, starting an inning in which six runs would score on five hits to give starting pitcher Jared Gaynor a comfortable cushion. Willis would eventually make it home after a Ray Toto RBI single to left field. Gum drove in two more runs in the inning with another single and Cook would cement the six runs with a three-run shot to right field, his first of the season. Cook would finish the game with three RBI.
Gaynor used the run support and pitched six scoreless innings in his season debut, striking out five batters while allowing four hits and three walks. Senior Neight Hoffa and junior transfer Riley Coverdale each threw two and one innings of relief, respectively, in the victory.
Five more runs would come across for Mason in the top of the eighth, including a bases-clearing three-run double by Gum, giving him six RBI in the game on a three for five performance at the plate. Freshman Jayme Murray also had his first collegiate at bat in the inning, pinch hitting for an RBI single for his first career hit for Mason.
Game two saw more strong output on offense and more clutch hitting with two outs on the board. The Patriots went 6-14 in game one with two outs and 6-15 in the 7-0 win over the USC Upstate Spartans.
Montefusco took the mound in game two in addition to playing designated hitter in the lineup. The senior duplicated Gaynor’s strong game one outing, throwing five innings of scoreless baseball while striking out six and allowing only three hits. Sophomore Mark Maksimow relieved Montefusco in the sixth inning and preserved the shutout while throwing four strikeouts and allowing three hits and a walk in the final four frames.
Murray added two more RBI to his collegiate total in the third inning, extending a 1-0 lead by bringing home Willis and senior Tucker Tobin. Cook also hit his second homerun in as many games in the sixth inning of the 7-0 victory, sailing the ball down the right field line to put Mason up 6-0. The Patriot defense also put in a solid performance that included two double plays, one of them a 6-4-3 double play to record the first two outs of the ninth inning.
Mason is back in action tomorrow, Sunday, February 16 when they play Morehead St. for the second time this weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the home of the USC Upstate Spartans. The game can be listened to live on GoMason.com.