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Late Homers Doom Upset Bid for #4 Dartmouth

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletic Communications

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Taking a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning at the NCAA Regional hosted by the University of Miami, the Dartmouth Big Green saw their upset hopes dashed when 20th-ranked Texas A&M smashed a solo home run in each of the last two innings to steal a 4-3 win on Sunday afternoon. Joe Patterson tied the game with his opposite-field blast to left in the eighth and Kevin Gonzalez lined his game-winner to left in the ninth to send the Aggies (42-20-1) to a showdown with the 11th-ranked Hurricanes (42-17) late on Sunday afternoon.

Dartmouth (27-19) got a terrific start from freshman left-hander Kyle Hunter, who held Texas A&M to just two runs, one earned, over 6.1 innings. Pitching in his home state, the native of Palm City allowed just four hits and walked two while equaling his career high with seven strikeouts the day after hurling the final two innings of a 15-9 victory over FIU.

Hunter exited in the seventh after walking Caleb Shofner with one out as junior closer Ryan Smith was summoned to get the final eight outs. A sacrifice bunt put the tying run in scoring position, but Smith escaped the inning by getting Scott Arthur to fly harmlessly to center.

Texas A&M relief ace John Stilson took to the mound to begin the seventh to keep the Aggie deficit at one, striking out two hitters in the inning sandwiched around a walk. But sophomore Joe Sclafani was nabbed trying to steal second to keep Dartmouth from a golden opportunity to get an insurance run.

Smith retired the first two batters in the eighth on a strikeout and a foul pop before Patterson hit an 0-1 fastball up and away about 10 feet over the left-field fence for his eighth four-bagger of the year, tying the game at three. It was just the sixth blown save in 30 chances in the career of the Ivy League's all-time saves leader.

Stilson threw two pitches in the eighth before a storm forced a stoppage in play and delayed the game for one hour and seven minutes. But Stilson did not show any ill-effects from the delay, continuing to fire away with mid-90s fastballs and a devastating change-up. The Big Green did get a pair of runners on base with infield singles by freshmen Chris O'Dowd and Zack Bellenger. With runners on the corners and two out, sophomore Jake Carlson hit a bouncer to the right of second base that Adam Smith back-handed and looked to second for a force to end the inning. But shortstop Brodie Green did not cover the bag, so Smith had to adjust and throw to first, where his one-hop throw was scooped by Patterson just to nip the speedy center fielder hustling down the line.

In the ninth, Gonzalez -- who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and struck out against Hunter -- worked the count full leading off before teeing off on a high fastball for his eight homer of the season, giving Texas A&M the 4-3 lead. Smith (3-2) quickly retired the next three hitters and Dartmouth came to the plate with one last chance to keep its season alive.

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