UNCW Advances To Title Game
HARRISONBURG, Va. (May 25, 2012) - Sophomore left-hander Mat Batts scattered 10 hits in a complete-game victory, and UNCW scored all of its runs during the final three innings to beat Delaware 3-2 Friday afternoon in the winners' bracket final of the Virginia 529 CAA Baseball Championship at Veterans Memorial Park.
The victory sends the top-seeded and league regular-season winner Seahawks into Saturday's 1 p.m. tournament championship round where they will need to win only once to claim the conference title and an automatic invitation to the NCAA Baseball Championship.
UNCW is 37-20 for the season after winning each of its first two tournament games and will be making its third championship round appearance during the last four seasons and fifth overall. The Seahawks finished second in the 2009 and 2010 league tournaments and won CAA titles in 2004 and 2006.
Delaware fell to 29-26 with the loss and will return to tournament play in Friday's scheduled 7 p.m. game. The Blue Hens will meet the survivor of Friday's 3:30 losers' bracket contest between second-seeded Hofstra and fifth-seeded VCU. The winner of Friday's 7 p.m. game will advance to face UNCW and will need to defeat the Seahawks twice to win the tournament crown.
Batts, who raised his season record to 6-4 with his second complete game of the year, struck out 11 and walked only one. He threw 125 pitches, including 86 for strikes. He allowed runs in the fourth and eighth innings and stranded the potential tying run on base following a one-out double in the bottom of the ninth.
Delaware starter Chad Kuhl (5-5), a sophomore right-hander, took the loss despite not allowing an earned run in 6 2/3 innings. He gave five hits and two walks while striking out one. He left the game two batters after taking a line drive off his pitching hand during a two-run seventh-inning rally that put UNCW in front to stay, 2-1.
Delaware designated hitter Alex Maruri hit a fourth-inning homer to give the Blue Hens a 1-0 lead, and the advantage lasted until UNCW's two-run seventh when the Seahawks benefitted from an infield throwing error and the drive off Kuhl's pitching hand.
A leadoff walk and a throwing error on an attempted force out at second base put UNCW runners at second and third with one out. The inning's first run scored when Michael Bass was retired despite lining sharply off Kuhl's right hand, and UNCW went up 2-1 when Matt Campbell, the last hitter Kuhl faced, followed with an RBI single.
The Seahawks added insurance run to lead 3-1 on Hunter Ridge's leadoff home run in the eighth.
Delaware got to within 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth when Nick Ferdinand singled with one out, moved to second on Maruri's single to deep shortstop and scored on Tyler Powell's two-out single.
The Blue Hens' Ryan Hartley doubled into the left field corner with one out in the bottom of the ninth and moved to third on a groundout before Batts got the game's final out on another infield grounder.
Ridge and Tyler Molinaro each had three of UNCW's 10 hits. Ridge had two singles in addition to his fourth homer of the season, and Molinaro doubled and had two singles.
Maruri had three hits and D.J. Long two for Delaware. Maruri had two singles in addition to his third homer of the year, and Long singled twice.