PITTSFIELD -- Held to only two hits through the first four innings and trailing by two runs, Drury baseball erupted for eight runs in the fifth to sink St. Joseph 12-3 on Monday.
Drury starting pitcher Schuyler Robinson benefited from the offense to get the victory despite falling behind 2-0 in the opening inning. Robinson gained command of his curveball after the early trouble, using the pitch to keep the Crusaders off balance the rest of the game.
"In the first inning I wasn't controlling [the curve], but in the second I started getting my mechanics down and throwing the curveball for first-pitch strikes," he said.
Before he did, St. Joe's Pat Latini connected with a fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead. St. Joe added another run when Nate Stump scored from third on a wild pitch by Robinson.
Robinson retired the next eight batters as his curveball started working before issuing a walk in the fourth. He picked off a pinch-runner to end the inning.
"The first time through the order you want to use the fastball and maybe a couple curves," Drury catcher Cody Crosier said. "Later on in the game, you want to use more curves."
St. Joe starter Jordan Kinnas started strong. He allowed only two singles to Robinson in the first and fourth innings. But in the fifth, Drury's bats came alive, busting the game wide open.
Joe Liporace started the uprising with one of five straight singles. Shane Garvey started the scoring with an RBI single. Kirby Bryce followed with a game-tying single and Jake Tatro's two-homer capped the eight-run inning.
Once Drury took the lead, Robinson's sole focus was getting the victory.
"[Run support] relaxes him," Drury coach Pat Boulger said. "He pitched with a little more ease and comfort. If he gets behind in the count, he doesn't have to worry about baserunners -- he can just go out and pitch."
St. Joe threatened in the sixth, putting runners on second and third with no outs. After a popout to shortstop, Stump scored on a sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to five. Robinson forced a flyout to end the inning.
Drury put four more runs on the board in the seventh, highlighted by a two-run home by Thaylen Harrison. Robinson struck out the side in the seventh to seal the win. He finished with nine strikeouts.
St. Joe coach Pat Murphy knows runs can pile up quickly with the short fences at the Doyle Complex. Sometimes the dimensions benefit the Crusaders. On Monday, they didn't.
"Anything can happen here," he said. "We just need to keep having good at-bats and a good approach at the plate. I thought we did for the most part. We battled right to the seventh inning."
With Tuesday's offensive production, confidence is running high for the Blue Devils (8-3) with a playoff berth in sight.
"We're only two wins away from Western Mass.," Robinson said. "We've got to keep plugging along and get some more wins."
"It's good knowing in the back of your mind that you can score eight runs in an inning, in case we ever find ourselves in a tough situation," Crosier added.
Drury 000 080 4 -- 12 10 1
St. Joe 200 001 0 -- 3 6 2
Robinson and Crosier. Kinnas (4+), Paul Bullock (1), Jay Coyne (2) and Nate Stump. 2B -- Drury 1 (Logan Rumbolt), St. Joe 1 (Devon Johnston). HR -- Drury 2 (Tatro, Harrison).
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