Sea Gulls stumble in opening round of NCAA tournament

Sea Gulls stumble in opening round of NCAA tournament

DANVILLE, Va. – The No. 9 Salisbury University baseball team faced off against Roanoke College in first round action of the 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament in the first meeting between the two programs. The Sea Gulls fell to the Maroons by the final score of 15-5 to get off to a 0-1 start in the south region.

Justin Meekins opened the scoring in the bottom half of the first inning for the maroon and gold. Meekins led off the inning with a double to deep right field to give the Gulls a runner in scoring position. A Pete Grasso single through the right side moved Meekins to third allowing him to score one batter later on an errant throw by Roanoke catcher Will Black for the 1-0 lead.

Roanoke's offense came to life in the top of the third plating five runs on four hits before registering a single out. An RBI single by Collier Donald knotted the game at 1-1 before a bases clearing triple by the Maroons' Will Decker pushed the advantage to 5-1.

The Sea Gulls had a great opportunity in the bottom of the fourth inning as they managed to load the bases with no outs in the inning. Jack Barry led off the inning with the walk and advanced to third one batter later after Tom LaBriola knocked a double into right field to give Salisbury two runners in scoring position. However, Roanoke pitcher John Ruhlman was able to retire three straight batters with back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

Salisbury managed to trim the deficit to 13-5 plating four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. A Jay Perry single and Robbie Jones double gave the Gulls runners in scoring position and a chance to chip away at the Maroons' lead. Ron Villone, who would score later in the inning, knocked a two-run double to center to plate both Perry and Jones. Grasso capped the four-run inning with the team's third double of the inning plating Meekins to pull the maroon and gold within single digits.

A six-run top of the sixth inning by Roanoke put the game out of reach and helped the Maroons capture the opening victory.  

Meekins and Grasso led the Sea Gull offense as the only two players to tally a multi-hit game as Meekins finished the game 2-for-3 while Grasso finished 3-for-5 with a double, triple, and one RBI. Villone completed his afternoon as the offensive leader in RBI with two.

Grasso took his first loss of the season dropping him to 8-1 going five innings, allowing seven earned runs off nine hits, while striking out four batters.

Salisbury will face the loser of No. 1 LaGrange (Ga.) College and Otterbein University in an elimination game on Friday, May 19 at 11 a.m.

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