SALISBURY, Md. – The top seeded Salisbury University baseball team will square off against the number six seeded University of Mary Washington in the Capital Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Saturday, April 22 at the SU Baseball Field. It will be the Sea Gulls' 14th trip to the CAC championship and the Eagles' 15th time appearing in the title game.
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How we got here
Salisbury defeated Wesley College on Friday morning by the final score of 25-10. The game was never in doubt as the maroon and gold raced out to 23-0 advantage through the first six and a half inning plating seven runs alone in the first inning. Tom LaBriola blew the game wide open in the top half of the first inning knocking a bases clearing three-run RBI double down the right field line in the top half of the first inning. Colby Dean pushed the lead to seven with a two-run blast to right field in the first. Nine different players finished the game with hits for Salisbury with Pete Grasso and Jay Perry leading the way with four a piece. Grasso posted a team-high seven RBI, four of which came on a grand slam in the third inning. LaBriola finished the game one RBI shy of his teammates recording six while scoring three runs himself.
How they got here
Mary Washington took the longer road to the finals playing two elimination games on Friday defeating Marymount (Va.) University 18-3 in game one and then battling back to defeat Wesley College 16-11 in game two. After tying the game at two in the second inning of game one the Eagles used two eight run spurts to secure the victory. Ten different players recorded hits while nine tallied at least one RBI.
In game two Mary Washington needed a late inning rally to punch its ticket to the championship using a nine run seventh inning. Leading 7-3 after the first four innings Wesley plated eight runs between the fifth and sixth innings to take an 11-7 lead. However, the Eagles rallied back with nine runs in the seventh inning using a grand slam to take the lead for good.
Last time we met
These two teams met just four days ago on the same field in the first round of the CAC tournament with the Sea Gulls getting the better of Mary Washington that afternoon winning by the final score of 21-6. Nine different Salisbury players recorded hits in the game with all of them recording at least two RBI while Perry and Kyle Canavan led the team with three each. The Sea Gulls jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first inning capped off by a Justin Meekins home run. Grasso got the start for the maroon and gold and won his sixth game of the season going seven innings pitched allowing just six hits and two earned runs while tying his season-high nine strikeouts.
Scouting the Eagles
Stephen Johnston leads the Mary Washington offense with a batting average of .356, 38 RBI, and is tied for the team lead in home runs with five. As a team the Eagles have scored 251 runs this season, are batting .286, recorded a slugging percentage of .423, and have belted 29 home runs. Seven players for Mary Washington have recorded batting averages of .303 or better with five of those players playing in 29 or more games. Robert Cross leads the Eagles' pitching staff with a team-best 4.32 ERA while Johnston is the only player pitcher who boasts a perfect record at 2-0 this season.
Nice to see you again
These two teams are no strangers to meeting in the CAC championship as it has happened seven times since 2000 with Salisbury winning the most recent matchup back in 2008. The Sea Gulls defeated the Eagles by the final score of 20-5 that afternoon to capture their, at the time, eighth CAC title. The last time Mary Washington defeated Salisbury in the championship game, you'd have to go all the way to 2005 when the Eagles earned an thrilling 10-9 victory over the Gulls'.
The winner of the game will get an automatic berth to the 2017 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Tournament.