YORK, Pa. – The No. 5 Salisbury University baseball team kept its offense going again, this time in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship game of the 2015 NCAA baseball tournament, as the Sea Gulls defeated Alvernia University, 12-2, to head to their second-straight College World Series.
The College World Series appearance is the fifth for Salisbury's program, and the first under Head Coach Troy Brohawn.
"I was fortunate to come to a team that was senior dominated," Brohawn said. "If I would've come into a situation where there were a lot of freshmen and sophomores, there would've been a lot more teaching involved instead of guiding and mentally preparing them."
The Sea Gulls would strike first, notching a run in the bottom of the first inning to go up 1-0. Senior Kyle Hayman started the inning with a leadoff walk before moving over 90 feet to second when sophomore Pete Grasso connected with the Gulls' first hit, singling through the left side. Senior Jordan Gowe was walked to load the bases. A groundout got Hayman home for the first run of the contest.
Junior starter Connor Shockley kept Alvernia off the board in the top of the second, retiring the side in order, including two-consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
Salisbury (33-4-1) increased its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second, tallying three runs in the inning. Junior Alex Lipman got things started with a leadoff single to left field before he shifted over to second on a single up the middle by junior Tyler Hrycak. Junior Kyle Goodwin squared to bunt on the next at-bat and reached first on a throwing error by the catcher, scoring Lipman and moving Hrycak to second.
Hayman connected with a bunt single to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly from Grasso deep into left field got Hrycak home. Hayman and Goodwin executed a double steal, taking second and third, respectively, before a groundout allowed Goodwin to run across home plate for the third run of the inning.
The Crusaders (35-14) got on the board in the top of the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Joe Iacobelli before a rain and lightning delay stopped the game for two-and-a-half hours.
The delay did not slow SU down, as the Gulls got another run across in the bottom of the fourth when Goodwin scored on a wild pitch, before Salisbury's offense would explode for six runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a big 11-2 lead.
"Our kids are really focused and we've had plenty of time to work on this back in February and March when we had snow and rain and had to reschedule a lot of games," Brohawn said about the delay. "It really didn't affect us."
Senior Bobby Sanzone led off the fifth with a single to right-center and advanced to second on a groundout before taking third on a single through the left side from senior catcher Austin Barefoot. Sanzone would then score on an error by the third baseman, which got Barefoot to second. Hrycak hit a one-out bomb over the left-field fence to plate the next two runs before Goodwin notched a double into left field.
After Goodwin advanced to third on a passed ball, Hayman blasted a single into right field to score Goodwin. A single from Grasso put Hayman into scoring position at third, while Grasso moved into scoring position as well when the Crusaders tried to get Hayman out at third. On the next at-bat, Grasso and Hayman scored on a throwing error by the third baseman to cap the scoring in the inning.
A single from Hrycak into left field that scored Lipman brought home the final run of the game, making the score 12-2.
Junior Connor Shockley started on the hill for the Gulls, pitching 4 1/3 innings and notching three strikeouts to earn his seventh win of the season. Senior Kyle Hamby closed out the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits and recording five strikeouts.
The Sea Gulls offense was dominant for the whole tournament, scoring at least 11 runs in every game of the regional.
"I think they are playing very well," Brohawn said. "We have 11 seniors on this team that went to the World Series last year and didn't do as well as they wanted to, and they had a goal set from day one to get back there this year."
Grasso had a strong day for the Gulls, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the regional tournament.
"He's just a player, that's all I can say, he's a player," Brohawn said. "He's a great shortstop and he can pitch and he just does a lot of things that a good baseball player does."
Salisbury now gets ready for the College World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin, which will begin on Friday, May 22. Check back at www.suseagulls.com to find out the Sea Gulls' seeding and who they will take on in the first round as it becomes available.