ORONO, Maine -- With his team facing elimination from the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament's Northeast Regional baseball tournament yesterday morning, Towson State University pitcher Rob Lynch came to the rescue.
Lynch, a junior right-hander from Mount Airy, threw his first career shutout to lead Towson to a 5-0 victory over Princeton at the University of Maine's Mahaney Diamond and keep his team in the hunt for its first berth in the College World Series.
Towson (28-22-1) advanced to face an undetermined opponent today at 3 p.m. in the double-elimination event.
Lynch (5-3) sent sixth-seeded Princeton (24-22) home with excellent control, getting 14 ground-ball outs. He threw 114 pitches, walked none and struck out two. He gave up eight hits, but no Princeton runner advanced past second base until the ninth inning.
We needed a good game right now," said Lynch, after evening Towson's record at 1-1 in the tournament. "In this tournament you're going to need two or three good performances from pitchers. The pitchers know we'll need six or seven strong innings from the starter."
Towson coach Mike Gottlieb, who got his 100th career victory in the game, said Lynch was never stronger.
I would say this is probably the best [performance] of his career," Gottlieb said. "And it was against a team in the regional, which made it more difficult."
While Lynch was controlling Princeton, his teammates were roughing up starter Todd Taylor (6-3). Towson got to the sophomore right-hander for five hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The tone was set in the bottom of the first. Towson leadoff man Jacen Martinez (2-for-5, 2 RBI) singled to right, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored when shortstop Sean Sullivan booted Alex Yost's grounder.
Towson scored two more runs in the second. Chris Masella led off with a single to left and advanced to third on a ball-four wild pitch issued to Tom Coleman. Jeff Banks, who entered the game with two hits in 39 at-bats, blooped an RBI single to right. Coleman went to third on Martinez's fly to right and scored on Steve Farling's sacrifice fly.
When Yost followed with a single to left, Princeton coach Tom O'Connell yanked Taylor.
"I had location problems," Taylor said. "The curveball was up. The fastball was up. And I started to get behind in the counts."
Martinez got two insurance runs in the sixth for Towson. He hit a 1-0 fastball from reliever Jason Garman 350 feet over the fence in right for a two-run homer to make it 5-0.
"I was just looking for a ball to hit hard and he happened to get the fastball up," said Martinez, whose homer was his third of the season.
Princeton threatened in the sixth, putting runners on first and second with two out. But Lynch induced clean-up hitter Kevin Butterfield to fly out to right.
Princeton 000 000 000 -- 0 8 3
Towson State 120 002 00x -- 5 9 0
Taylor, Garman (2) and Hayes; Lynch and Tiller. 2B: P--Poscas, Nash; TS--Logwood. HR: TS--Martinez.