SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 16 Salisbury University baseball team came from behind in the late innings to pull out a 5-4 win in the first round of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, Wednesday afternoon at the SU Baseball Field.
Salisbury (24-7), the second seed in the CAC tournament, would mix solid defense, timely hitting and help from the Wolverines to stay in the winner's bracket of the tournament.
Junior Dan Fein got help from his defense in the top of the first to get out of the inning. The Wolverines' Trevor Mears got the first hit of the game with a liner to left center but was thrown out at by senior Bill Root at second when he tried to stretch the base hit into a double.
Wesley (15-14), the fifth seed in the field, would get on the board first, pushing across two runs in the fourth. Cory Smith started the inning with a single and would come all the way around on a single by Mears. Smith would have been held at third but the ball was misplayed the Sea Gulls, allowing Smith to score and Mears to advance to second for a 1-0 Wesley lead.
Three batters later, Stan Zulkowski would ground out to senior Ken O'Neill, who made a diving stop on the ball, but the Wolverines would bring home their second run of the inning.
The Wolverines would add a pair of runs in the fifth when Mears hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to score Tyler Hunter, making the score 3-0. Two batters later, Matt Domian checked his swing on a full-count offering to walk in a run. Fein would strike out the next batter, Zulkowski, to leave the bases full of Wolverines.
Fein would exit after the fifth, replaced by sophomore Jon Schmedel. Fein would finish having allowed four runs on six hits, striking out four while walking three.
Schmedel would also get some defensive help, this time from junior Jordan Gowe, who robbed Cody Dmiterchik of extra bases with a diving catch for the second out of the sixth inning.
Freshman Pete Grasso would lead off the sixth for Salisbury with a line drive single to left field, the first Sea Gull hit since a single by junior Austin Barefoot with two outs in the second. Senior Quinn Griffith would follow with a single through the left side to give the Sea Gulls some life. Following a sacrifice bunt by junior Bobby Sanzone, the Sea Gulls would get on the board.
Senior Johnny Schiotis grounded to third base and Grasso broke from home. The throw home bounced at the feet of the catcher and Grasso was safe at the plate to narrow the lead to 4-1.
The Sea Gulls would continue to get stellar play in the field, this time in the seventh. With runners on first and second with no out, Root caught a ball off the bat of Mears and threw behind the runner at second to double off Eric Speidel.
Salisbury would answer in its half of the seventh with a pair of unearned runs. With one out, junior Sam Myers would reach base on catcher's interference and would be pinch run for by classmate Tyler Illian. Two batters later, Grasso would single to center, giving the Sea Gulls runners on first and second with two outs. Griffith would follow and skied a ball to shallow right field, which was dropped by Mears, allowing Illian to score.
Sanzone would follow with a single to center, scoring Grasso to make the score 4-3. Following an infield single by Schiotis to load the bases, the Wolverines would escape the inning with the lead.
The Sea Gulls would get their first lead in the eighth, following back-to-back hits by sophomore Kyle Goodwin and Illian to start the inning. Two batters later, junior Kyle Hayman would chop an infield single to shortstop to score Goodwin and tie the ballgame. Grasso would follow with a single to center that would bring across Illian to give Salisbury the lead.
Schmedel worked 2 2/3 innings without allowing a run. After a Sea Gull error with two outs in the eighth, sophomore Connor Shockley would get the final out of the eighth. After the Salisbury comeback in the bottom half of the eighth, Shockley ended up as the pitcher of record for the Sea Gulls.
Junior Kyle Hamby would come in for a six-pitch perfect ninth inning for the seventh save of the season and 10th of his career. The seven saves ties Assistant Coach Corey Willey for second on the single-season leader board and his career mark ties Drew Baldwin (2008-11) for second on the career all-time list.
The Sea Gulls advance to the weekend, looking to win the CAC tournament for a third straight year. They will take on third-seeded Christopher Newport University on Friday, April 18 at 4 p.m. Follow the Sea Gulls throughout the CAC tournament on www.suseagulls.com.