SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 10 Salisbury University baseball team looks to stave off elimination in the 2016 NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament on Thursday, as the Sea Gulls will take on Salve Regina University at PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania at 1:15 p.m.
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How we got here
The Sea Gulls earned the Capital Athletic Conference's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament by winning the program's 13th CAC championship on April 23 over Frostburg State University. However, the Gulls dropped their first game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional, falling 7-1 to Kean University on Wednesday. Senior Tyler Hrycak drove in Salisbury's lone run with an RBI single in the fourth inning.
How they got here
Salve Regina won the Commonwealth Coast Conference to gain an automatic qualifier into the national tournament, before falling in the first day of action, 6-5, to St. John Fisher College. The teams played a back-and-fourth battle that saw Salve Regina take three different leads, including 5-4 in the eighth inning. However, St. John Fisher brought home two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take the lead for good.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Salisbury and Salve Regina.
Scouting Salve Regina
The Seahawks enter Thursday's contest with one of the more formidable offenses in the country, which ranks 24th with a .330 team batting average and 51st with a 7.5 runs-per-game average. They are also one of the best running teams in the country, ranking ninth with 100 total stolen bases on the year. John Militano and Ryan Kelly lead the team with 26 and 22 stolen bases, respectively, while Zack Smith paces the squad with a .427 average. Billy Humes leads the team on the mound with five wins in eight starts, to go with a 2.93 ERA. Cory Poplawski is ranked first on the squad with 53 strikeouts.
Let's get streaky
With the Sea Gulls advancing to the NCAA tournament this season, the program has now made 17-straight appearances in the national playoff. Salisbury's streak began in the 2000 season and has included 12 CAC championships and five College World Series berths. It is the second-longest active streak in Division III for advancing to the tournament, only behind State University of New York at Cortland's 24-straight appearances.
Power in numbers
Salisbury's lineup contains nine players that have all hit a home run in 2016, led by senior Jake Dmiterchik's nine. Seniors Kyle Goodwin and Tyler Hrycak and junior Pete Grasso have each smashed seven long balls on the year, giving the team's top-four home run hitters 30 combined. As a team, the Sea Gulls have blasted 43 home runs, which is good for No. 6 in the country, while their 1.23 home runs per game is second in the nation.
The winner of Thursday's matchup will move on to the first game of Friday's action at 10 a.m., at PNC Field. They will take on the loser of a game on Thursday between University of Massachusetts Boston and Penn State University-Berks.