PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.—Denison jumped out to a 4-1 lead against Nichols in Punta Gorda, Florida but the Bison rallied with two runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and two more in the ninth to knock off the Big Red, 10-7.
DU's four-run first inning came to fruition after a single by Phil Papaioannou scored Eric Zmuda. Tanner Johnson slapped a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Evan Flax. An error on the shortstop moved everybody up a base. With no one out, RBI ground outs by Tucker Davison and Joseph Maydwell scored two more, making it a 4-1 game after one.
Denison starter Perley Provost retired the Bison in order in the second. In the third, an error on the first baseman put runners on second and third with no one out. Provost battled back to get Cam Cook to ground into a 4-3-6 double play which scored an unearned run.
Denison took a 5-2 lead into the sixth after Brian McAuliffe's base hit to center scored Maydwell. In the top of the seventh, Provost ran into a jam after a leadoff single and walk to start the frame. A sacrifice bunt attempt by Greg Eng resulted in an error on Provost that scored a run while placing runners on the corner. Joe Assenza followed with a RBI double and head coach Mike Deegan went to Mikey Rivera with DU still holding a 5-4 lead.
Rivera got out of the jam with a strikeout and two infield popups but trouble came back around in the eighth. Three runs on four hits gave Nichols their first lead since the top of the first.
Two more in the top of the ninth had Denison on their heels at 10-5. With a steep hill to climb, Denison went to work in the home half of the ninth as McAuliffe opened with a walk. Pinch hitter Ethan Carlyon singled to left, moving pinch runner Nick Pettigrew to second. Zmuda loaded the bases with a single to center and Evan Flax brought in Pettigrew with a sac fly to left.
Papaioannou got crafty with one out and reached base with a bunt single. Another sacrifice fly by Johnson made it a 10-7 game with two outs and runners on second and third.
The game-winning run would come to the plate after Davison was hit by a pitch. That gave Maydwell a chance to be the hero, but a 6-4 ground out placed that scenario on ice.
Provost pitched six innings, scattering five hits and two walks. Four runs crossed the plate but only one was earned. Rivera was saddled with the loss in his one inning of work. Connor Hanrahan worked the final two innings for DU.
Papaioannou led the Big Red at the plate, going 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored.
Denison will close out their spring break schedule on Saturday when they take on North Central at 12 p.m.