Sea Gull Baseball Stadium played host to three games on the first day of the CAC Tournament opening round, where fourth seed Penn State Harrisburg (28-10-1; 14-7) and sixth seed Southern Virginia University (15-17; 6-14) came to town.
Both the Lions and Knights faced each other and top seed Salisbury on day one of the double elimination tournament on Friday.
The sixth nationally ranked and CAC Tournament top seed Salisbury (33-6-1; 19-2) came into the tournament on a 12-game win streak. The Sea Gulls’ only conference losses during the regular season came at the hands of then-top nationally ranked Christopher Newport University.
Salisbury 6, Southern Virginia 2
After falling 13-5 to the Lions in the first game, Southern Virginia took on Salisbury in the second game. The Knights needed a win to prevent being eliminated from the tournament.
After a scoreless first inning, an RBI sac fly by sophomore second baseman Jimmy Adkins scored junior left fielder Brad Haas from third to put SU up 1-0 in the top of the second.
After the Knights tied it up in the bottom of the second, Salisbury regained the lead on junior designated hitter Jimmy Monaghan’s RBI single that scored freshman right fielder Cameron Hyder.
Junior catcher Matt Padeway scored on a wild pitch, which increased Salisbury’s lead to 3-1. Salisbury would tack on three more runs in the top of the sixth to increase its lead to 6-1.
On the mound, junior pitcher Clayton Dwyer struck out six batters, while only allowing eight hits and two earned runs in his seven innings pitched.
After walking the first two batters he faced, freshman relief pitcher Daniel Frake settled in and struck out the next four batters he faced in both the eighth and ninth innings. The Sea Gulls would get the final two outs to pick up the win 6-2 over Southern Virginia, with Frake earning the save.
“As a pitcher, I trust my [defense] more than anything,” Frake said. “I’m not afraid to let [my opponents] hit the ball, and I know they’ll have my back.”
Penn State Harrisburg 5, Salisbury 0
After eliminating the Knights from the tournament, the Sea Gulls faced the Lions in the third and final game of day one.
The Lions quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the third inning, with outfielder Bret Williams homering to center field and catcher Tyler Aug scoring on a wild pitch.
On the mound, Harrisburg pitching dominated Salisbury early on, not allowing a single hit or base runner until the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Salisbury was able to load the bases with no outs. Despite this, the Lions escaped the inning unscathed, still leading 2-0.
Harrisburg hit another home run in the top of the third and scored two more runs in the top of the eighth to take a 5-0 lead.
Despite the SU offense getting six hits in the game, Harrisburg prevented the Sea Gulls from scoring. The Lions went on to defeat Salisbury 5-0, handing the Sea Gulls only their second shut-out loss of the year.
“We always expect to win, and [we] came up short today,” Frake said. “We can’t dwell on it for too long because we got to be back out here tomorrow."
The Sea Gulls’ starting pitcher Adkins and junior Jason McDonough combined to strike out eight Lions batters in the loss.
Hyder found the most success hitting against both Harrisburg and Southern Virginia going a combined four for seven (two for three with two runs scored and an RBI versus the Knights, two for four versus the Lions). Hyder’s performance at the plate extended his hit streak to a current team-high four games.
“I really focused this week in practice on keeping my front shoulder in and driving the ball back side and it paid off for me,” Hyder said.
The Sea Gulls return to action on Saturday, hosting Harrisburg in day two of the CAC opening round tournament. The Lions can eliminate Salisbury from the tournament with another win.
If Salisbury defeats the Lions in their contest tomorrow, it will play the rubber match against the Lions, with the winner advancing to the CAC Tournament finals.
“We got to have a quick memory loss,” Salisbury head coach Troy Brohawn said. “Hopefully we get a good pitching performance in the morning and carry it to a second game.”
By BRANDON STARK
Featured photo: Justin Meekins before his at bat April 13 (Marshall Haas image).