HARRISONBURG, VA (UNCW sports release) — UNCW rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to score twice in the ninth inning to edge Delaware, 10-8, in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association baseball tournament on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Seahawks (38-21) advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the program’s history and the first since the 2008 season. The title was also UNCW’s third championship and first since 2006. Delaware finished with a 31-27 record.
With the game tied at eight in the top of the ninth, Thomas Pope plated Hunter Ridge, who doubled to lead off, with a single to center field. The second and final run of the inning came across on Jake Koenig’s sacrifice fly to center that scored Pope.
In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Kelly Secrest (5-2) retired the Blue Hens in order to end the game.
Reliever Eric Young (6-5) was tagged with the loss after allowing both runs on four hits in an inning of work.
UD built a 6-0 lead through two innings as DJ Long and Nick Ferdinand opened the first inning with back-to-back homers off UNCW starter Ricky Holden. Holden would allow five runs in the inning, lasting just a third of an inning.
UNCW got back into the game with three runs in the third off UD starter Cory Crispell. Pope had an RBI double but the big blow was a two-run homer by Tyler Molinaro.
The Seahawks exploded for five runs in the fourth to take an 8-6 lead. An RBI double by Matt Campbell and another two-run homer, this one by Andrew Cain, fueled the inning.
That lead was short lived though as UD struck for two runs in the fifth to draw even against reliever Tyler DeLoach. The first run came across on a balk and Long delivered again with a RBI single one batter later.
Justin Livengood gave the Seahawks a lift on the mound with 2 1/3 innings of shutout baseball as neither team scored from the sixth through eighth innings.
Long finished with four hits in the championship final while Jimmy Yezzo, the tournament MVP, and Ty Warrington added two hits apiece.
Corey Dick and Pope paced a 16-hit offense for UNCW with three hits apiece. Campbell had two hits and scored twice.
Secrest, who earned the win, retired all seven batters he faced to end the game.
In the day’s first game, Delaware forced a second game with an 11-9 win as the Blue Hens exploded for 16 hits on the game. Yezzo, who set a tournament record with 16 hits, had four hits and knocked in four runs. He belted his eight homer of the season.
Molinaro, Pope and Michael Bass each had three hits, but UNCW was unable to overcome a five-run sixth inning as UD jumped in front 10-4.
Jeff Murray (1-1) earned the win in relief and Chad Kuhl picked up his first save.
Jordan Ramsey (4-3) suffered the loss.
All Tournament Team
MVP: Jimmy Yezzo (Delaware)
Matt Campbell (UNCW), Thomas Pope (UNCW), Tyler Molinaro (UNCW), Mat Batts (UNCW), Tyler McSwain (UNCW); DJ Long (Del), Alex Murari (Del), Eric Young (Del), Jimmy Yezzo (Del); Brent Mikionis (VCU), Zach Fisher (Towson), Zack Helgeson (GMU).