---- — FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Vargues played Houdini on Saturday.
The Plattsburgh State reliever escaped two jams and pitched the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory over UMass-Boston to open their annual trip to the Gene Cusic Classic with their first win of the season.
J.D. Jenkins started on the mound for Plattsburgh (1-4) and didn’t have his best stuff, allowing three runs, six hits and five walks.
In the fifth, Jenkins loaded the bases with nobody out and hit the next batter to force in a run and tie the game, at 3-all.
“J.D. didn’t have the same velocity he had last week in his start and there were guys on base every inning against him,” Plattsburgh coach Kris Doorey said.
Vargues, a junior, then took over and was up to the task as he avoided further damage with a strikeout, infield pop and infield grounder.
“Mike didn’t give up another run in the fifth and that was big for us,” Doorey said. “He did a great job.”
The reliever retired the side in the sixth before allowing two runners in the seventh and then getting a double play to end the inning.
“We turned a nice double play to get out of that inning,” Doorey said. “They were stealing second base and second baseman Jonathan Repetto went over to cover. The ball was hit up the middle, Repetto caught it, tagged the runner and then threw to first all in one motion.
“If they didn’t have a hit-and-run going on the play, it probably would have been an RBI single up the middle.”
Plattsburgh, which stranded more than its share of runners, broke the 3-all tie with two in the top of the eighth.
Yuya Osawa singled with one out, stole second and both Mat Chavez and Luke Weaver drew walks to load the bases. The Beacons got the second out of the inning and it looked as though the Cardinals might strand three more.
But a wild pitch allowed the go-ahead run to score and Nick Lupo’s single to left gave the Cardinals a 5-3 advantage.
“They brought in a new guy and he threw a wild pitch,” Doorey said. “Then Lupo was able to get a two-out, RBI hit.”
Vargues got the side in order in the eighth, but ran into trouble in the ninth when a double, hit by pitch and double steal brought UMass-Boston (2-1) back to within one.
A single put runners on first and third before Vargues got a short fly to right and a then a strikeout to strand the tying run 90 feet away.
“Mike ran into trouble in the ninth and we thought about taking him out,” Doorey said. “But Mike gave us this much in the game and we decided to see what he could do. He struck out the last batter looking.”
Vargues allowed three hits, no walks and struck out two in going the final five innings to get the win.
Osawa went 3-for-3, including a run scored on an RBI, to lead the Cardinals’ 11-hit attack. Lupo also had three hits, while Chris Pescetti and Chavez added two apiece.
“We gave Yuya his first start — we wanted to give him a chance,” Doorey said. “He had a big game with three hits and got on base all five times. He’s going to get another start (today).”
Plattsburgh stranded 12 runners.
“We stranded 11 in scoring position,” Doorey said. “We left only one runner on first. The others were at second and third.
“We changed things up in practice this week and did a great job getting guys on base (Saturday). Still, we struggled to get the big two-out hit.”
Plattsburgh trailed, 2-0, in the fourth when Osawa and Chavez delivered two-out, run-scoring singles to tie it. The Cardinals added another run in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Jeremy Rodriquez to take a 3-2 advantage.
“It was good to get that first win under our belts,” Doorey said. “The players have to prove to themselves that they can win. UMass-Boston is a good team from a good conference.
“We were real aggressive (Saturday) and that’s the way we need to play. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get more two-out hits, but we did a lot offensively and played solid defense.
“We are, however, still a work in progress.”
Plattsburgh plays a 1 p.m. twinbill today against Plymouth State.
Plattsburgh 5, UMass-Boston 4
Plattsburgh 000 210 020 — 5 11 0
UMass-Bos. 110 010 001 — 4 9 1
Jenkins, Vargues (5) and Buksa. Mantoni, Barrack (6), Roche (8), May (8) and Ezold. WP- Vargues. LP- Roche. 2B- Gomes-Siranni (UMB), Ezold (UMB), Gutierrez (UMB).