SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 10 Salisbury University baseball team will begin its 2016 NCAA Division III tournament journey on Wednesday, May 18 in day-one action of the Mid-Atlantic Regional, hosted by Misericordia University at PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania. The third-seeded Sea Gulls will take on sixth-seeded Kean University in a contest scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
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How we got here
Salisbury earned its 22nd-overall and 17th-straight tournament berth by winning the program's 13th Capital Athletic Conference championship to capture the league's automatic qualifier into the national tournament. The Sea Gulls won all four games they played in the CAC tournament and defeated Frostburg State University, 9-8, on April 23 in the championship game. Senior Kyle Goodwin led the way for the Sea Gulls, going 3-for-4 at the plate, including two home runs, while driving in four RBI and scoring two runs.
How they got here
Kean earned one of 13 Pool C bids into the NCAA tournament, after amassing a 26-16 record during the regular season. The Cougars fell to William Paterson University and The College of New Jersey in the New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament, but enter the tournament on a two-game winning spurt. Most recently, Kean took down Farmingdale State College, 10-3, on Thursday, May 12.
The Sea Gulls and Cougars have met 15-previous times, with Kean holding a 10-5 all-time record in the series. The Sea Gulls won the only NCAA tournament game between the two schools, taking a 10-3 win in the College World Series on May 28, 2011. Brian Green led Salisbury in the game with three hits and three RBI, while also scoring two runs. Dustin Herbert earned the win on the mound, pitching 8 2/3 innings; he allowed only two earned runs and struck out four in the effort.
Last time we met
The two teams met earlier this season in Union, New Jersey, with Kean coming away with an 11-3 victory. The Sea Gulls jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, on a sacrifice fly by senior Jake Dmiterchik and an RBI single by junior Tom LaBriola. The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the inning, but Salisbury tacked on one more in the fifth and held its lead until the Kean half of the seventh. The Cougars put together an eight-run inning on the way to the win.
Kean enters the 2016 NCAA tournament led by its pitching staff and a small-ball approach to offense. As a team, the Cougars boast a 3.67 earned-run average, with Richie Ferguson (7-4) and Chris Amato (6-3) as Nos. 1 and 2 in wins, while each hold a 3.24 ERA. Trevor Hopman also holds a 5-1 record with a 3.53 ERA on the mound. The offense is led by Sal Taormina's .380 batting average and 33 RBI. The Cougars rank seventh in the nation with 54 sacrifice bunts on the year, while also stealing 1.57 bases per game. Amato has swiped 12 bags to lead the team. Kean also possesses one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking third with a .973 fielding percentage.
The Sea Gulls boast one of the nation's top offenses, which is currently ranked first in the country in scoring with 10.6 runs per game. Salisbury has scored 371 runs on the year, which is third in the country. The unit is powered by a .349 team batting average, good for third in the country, a .443 team on-base percentage, which is No. 1 in the nation, and a .532 slugging percentage. With runners in scoring position, the Gulls are hitting .367, taking advantage of their opportunities to put runs on the board.
Player of the Year
In his first full season as the starting catcher, junior Tom LaBriola has had a break-out season, leading to him being named the Capital Athletic Conference's Player of the Year. He added an All-CAC first-team selection, leading Salisbury's six all-conference players. LaBriola led the team and the conference with his .445 batting average, 65 hits, and 55 RBI. He also ranked fourth in the CAC with 46 runs scored. LaBriola added 12 doubles and four home runs on the year. He has been a standout in the field, as well, throwing out 17 would-be base stealers this season.
The winner of Wednesday's matchup will move into the winner's bracket and take on the winner of the fourth game of day one between St. John Fisher College and Salve Regina University in the second day of action on Thursday, May 19 in a game scheduled for 7:45 p.m. The loser will take on the loser of the St. John Fisher/Salve Regina game in an elimination game on Thursday that is set for 1:15 p.m.