The No. 13 Salisbury University baseball team improved its mark to 3-0 on Wednesday as the Gulls took down the Mighty Macs of Immaculata University by a score of 11-0.
On the mound for Salisbury was freshman right-hander Jackson Balzan. Making his collegiate debut, Balzan was clinical. The first-year starter punched out 11 batters over six scoreless innings of work, surrendering just one hit in the process.
Sea Gull manager Troy Brohawn had nothing but praise for the way his young pitcher handled his first start at the college level.
“It was one of the best performances from a freshman that I have seen in my time here,” Brohawn said. “He has such a calm demeanor, he doesn’t get rattled and his work ethic is second to none. You don’t see that very often in an 18-year-old kid coming in.”
While Balzan was thrilled after his strong outing, the freshman did admit that there were some nerves heading into his debut.
“It feels great. I am always a little bit nervous when I first go out there, but once I get that first inning out of the way, it usually relieves those nerves, and that was certainly the case today,” Balzan said. “It also really helps to have a group of guys like this, hitting the ball and scoring runs the way they do. It takes a lot of pressure off of me when I am on the mound.”
One area of emphasis when approaching the Immaculata lineup for Balzan was using his off speed pitches to keep the Mighty Macs off balance.
“My curveball was key. A lot of their hitters didn’t put good swings on it, so that’s something I kept going back to,” Balzan said. “I also located my fastball well, so I was able to use both of those pitches effectively today.”
The Sea Gulls were held scoreless for the first two innings as Immaculata starter Ryan Crowell sat down the first six Salisbury hitters in order.
In the third inning, however, senior third baseman Brandon Bonesteel deposited the 1-0 pitch over the right field fence to give Salisbury the lead.
The following inning saw senior first baseman Jimmy Monaghan bring in a run with an RBI double.
A couple of sixth-inning RBI doubles by juniors Christian Murphy and Brad Haas gave the Sea Gulls a 4-0 lead.
The floodgates opened for Salisbury in the bottom of the eighth. The Sea Gulls' seven-run inning was highlighted by a Cameron Hyder RBI triple, followed up by a Nate Yoder base hit which also brought in a run for the Gulls.
One of the biggest ways that Salisbury was able to open up its lead late in the game was with its speed on the basepaths, swiping four bases, including junior shortstop Jimmy Adkins stealing home in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“When we did all of our offseason evaluations, we realized that we had a lot of team speed,” Brohawn said. “This is definitely one of the ways that we wanted to implement it. We like to put pressure on defends to make them uncomfortable and force them to execute.”
As the team gets geared up to face the Red Dragons, Brohawn thinks some added experience and depth may prove favorable this coming weekend.
“Us and Cortland always have a good rivalry going. Usually when we fall short, it’s because of some inexperience on our part,” Brohawn said. “I don’t think that will be the case for this group. We’ve got some mature guys, and I think we’ll be ready to go.”
The Sea Gulls will be back in action this weekend for a two-game weekend stint against No. 7 the State University of New York Cortland. First pitch on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.
By THOMAS WEST
Featured photo: Brad Boardman image.