The ninth-ranked Salisbury University baseball team held their second double header in as many days on Sunday, facing off against the Lions of The College of New Jersey.
In the first game, the Sea Gulls came out on top by a score of 6-2.
Second-year starter Jackson Balzan toed the rubber for the Sea Gulls.
The right-hander entered the game with a 1-0 record and a 4.15 earned-run average on the season.
Balzan cruised through five innings of work for Salisbury, allowing only one unearned run on two hits.
The sophomore said after he got through the first inning, he was able to establish a rhythm.
“I feel like that’s when I’m at my best,” Balzan said. “Once I get everything going and I get myself into a rhythm, it just feels good.”
Despite only having started eight games thus far in his college career, Balzan is already becoming one of the more reliable arms in the Salisbury rotation. He boasts a 4-1 career record and a 3.57 ERA through 35.1 innings of work.
Inexperience does not shy the sophomore from going out and commanding innings on the mound for the Sea Gulls.
“I’ve trained really hard,” Balzan said. “Every time I go out there, I hold myself to a higher standard.”
On the opposing side, right hander Tom Kelly went six strong innings for TCNJ, allowing two earned runs on two hits.
Offensively for Salisbury, outfielder Cameron Hyder came through with a critical eighth-inning triple that brought in two runs.
Senior righthander Clayton Dwyer came in and finished the job for the Sea Gulls, tossing three scoreless innings to close things out.
The Laurel product recorded his first save on the year, tallying five punchouts and surrendering only two hits.
Game two would turn out to be more of the same for the Sea Gulls, as they defeated the Lions 11-3.
On the bump for Salisbury was local James M. Bennett product Aaron Combs.
In what was only Combs’ second career start, the freshman was solid for the Sea Gulls. He allowed one run on one hit with four strikeouts on the day.
Matt Volpe got the start for TCNJ, and he struggled to find the strike zone for the better part of the game, as the junior surrendered nine walks.
Salisbury took advantage of this in the fifth inning, where they exploded for six runs to give them a 10-3 lead.
Defensive miscues haunted the Lions in both games, as they recorded three errors in the first and two more in the second. These errors resulted in four unearned runs against TCNJ across both games.
Brandon Bonesteel, Cameron Hyder and Christian Murphy each chipped in with two runs batted in apiece.
Between the two games, the Sea Gulls used 11 different pitchers.
Head coach Troy Brohawn said this was partially to do with creating favorable matchups, and partially trying to stretch out the bullpen over the course of four games in two days.
“We played 36 innings of baseball this weekend,” Brohawn said. “If we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to get our guys some innings on some tight ballgames.”
Brohawn said it felt good to come out and get a couple of quality wins after suffering their first loss of the season on Saturday.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us this weekend.” Brohawn said. “To come out and get a couple of big wins with out (Justin) Meekins was huge.”
The Sea Gulls were without Justin Meekins, their top offensive producer, on Sunday with an injury. Brohawn hopes to have him back in the lineup in the near future.
The Sea Gulls will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Wesley College. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.
By TOMMY WEST
Photo courtesy of SU Sports Information.