SALISBURY, Md. – Junior Pete Grasso set career highs with three home runs and nine runs batted in to lead the No. 11 Salisbury University baseball team in its 34-10 victory over Gwynedd Mercy University on Thursday afternoon at the SU Baseball Field.
In the offensive outburst, the Sea Gulls scored the most runs in a game since the team put up 35 runs in a win over Albertus Magnus College on March 14, 2014. Grasso's nine RBI marked the most in a game since Mike Celenza drove in 10 against University of Mary Washington in 2010, while his three homers tied for the most in a game since 2009 when Andrew Miller and Ryan Smith both had three in a game.
Salisbury fell in an early 4-0 hole, after the Griffins scored all four runs to start the second inning. However, the Sea Gull offense got going in the third inning for five runs to take its first lead.
With runners on first and second, junior Tom LaBriola started a streak of three-straight RBI hits, smacking a single into center to score senior Kyle Goodwin from second. Senior Jake Dmiterchik came to the plate and crushed a two RBI double to the center-field fence to get the deficit to 4-3, before Grasso sent his first home run to right field for the 5-4 edge.
Gwynedd Mercy quickly took back the lead with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth, but the Gulls had the answer in the bottom of the fifth.
Grasso moved to the mound in relief in the top of the fifth, recording the final two outs to bring the SU offense back to bat. Grasso settled the Salisbury pitching with 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing only three hits and striking out five to earn his first win of the season.
Salisbury proceeded to score 12 runs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good, with Dmiterchik hitting another double to plate Goodwin and get the scoring started; Dmiterchik finished the game with six RBI to tie his career high.
Grasso then sent a single up the middle for two more RBI, and sophomore Brad Keith followed with another single to drive in one and tie the game, 9-9; Keith set a career-high three RBI on the day.
After Salisbury took the lead with a Griffins' error allowing Keith to score, senior Mike LaBriola came up in a pinch-hit opportunity. With two on, he connected on the first pitch for a three-run homer to right center to cushion the Gulls' advantage and also set a career high with three RBI.
Keith added his final two RBI to cap the scoring in the inning with a two-run single, with Grasso also coming around to score on the play on an error.
The Sea Gulls exploded for 12 more runs in the seventh inning, with Grasso hitting his second and third long shots in the frame.
Dmiterchik again got things going, sending his fourth home run of the season, a no-doubt shot, to left for two runs. Grasso followed with a solo shot to right for back-to-back bombs.
Grasso's third home run came after the Gulls batted around, this time sending a grand slam out to center field to complete his big day and push the lead to 27-9.
Freshman Tyler Mayo added his first-career hit in the inning, before scoring on the Grasso homer.
In the eighth, the Gulls tallied seven more runs, including two on a double by senior Connor Shockley, as he notched his first career hit and RBI.
Sophomore Kyle Skilling and freshman AJ Korczynski combined to pitch the final two innings of relief, allowing only one run and three hits. Skilling struck out the side in the eighth, and Korczynski added two strikeouts in the ninth.
Grasso and Tom LaBriola led the way with four hits, each, in the game, while Dmiterchik set a career high with six runs scored to lead the team.
The Sea Gulls are next in action at St. Mary's College of Maryland for a Capital Athletic Conference doubleheader on Saturday, March 26; the first pitch is set for 12 p.m.