SALISBURY, Md. – The third-ranked Salisbury University baseball team faced heartbreak in the longest game in NCAA Division III history, falling to the Southern Virginia Knights, 7-6, in 23 innings in a Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference (C2C) game that began on Friday afternoon and ended on Saturday evening at Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After a pair of quiet innings, the Sea Gulls broke the ice in the bottom of the third. Jacob Ference led off with a single and advanced to second and third on a sac bunt and flyout. With two down, Luke Weddell hit a comebacker to the mound that the SVU pitcher mishandled. Ference scored on the error to give Salisbury a 1-0 lead.
- Stephen Rice slashed a double down the left field line to lead off the fourth, and Scott Cameron followed with a double of his own to left center, scoring Rice. Cameron moved up to third on a groundout, then after a walk Ference lifted a sac fly into center, scoring Cameron to make it 3-0 Sea Gulls.
- The Knights got back into it in the fifth. Brady Lamb led off with a double, then Manny Lara singled him home, making it 3-1 Salisbury, at which point the game was delayed and eventually suspended due to rain and lightning.
- At the resumption, Corey Burton took the mound for Salisbury and stranded a pair of runners to get out of the fifth. In the home half of the fifth, Weddell managed a one-out single, then two batters later Rice dropped a bloop triple into right field, scoring Weddell to put the Sea Gulls up 4-1.
- SVU refused to go away, though. In the sixth, Nick Daynes worked a one-out walk, then Mitch Smith hit a comebacker to the mound that Burton threw into center field. After a strikeout, Lara laced a single into right that Cameron Hyder booted, allowing both runners to score and cut the Knights' deficit to 4-3.
- Salisbury had a chance to boost the lead in the sixth and seventh but left the bases loaded in each inning.
- With the door open for a comeback, the Knights forged ahead in the eighth. After a leadoff walk, Daynes slashed a game-tying double into the left field corner but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. On the next pitch, Smith cracked a solo homer to left, giving SVU a 5-4 lead.
- Cullen McAuliffe led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, then after a sac bunt the game was delayed by rain for 20 minutes. Joe Doherty pinch-ran for McAuliffe and scored the tying run on a Weddell single, making it 5-5. The Sea Gulls eventually had two on with one out but the rally got cut short by a double play.
- Neither team scored for the next nine innings as the game soldiered on into uncharted territory. Both teams had several chances to win it, stranding multiple runners across multiple innings. The Sea Gulls' best chance to win came in the bottom of the 16th, but Weddell struck out with two down and the bases loaded.
- The teams traded a run each in the 18th inning. Cole Campanile led off the top of the frame with a double and eventually scored on an error at short, giving SVU a 6-5 advantage. The Sea Gulls answered in the bottom of the 18th as Zach Geesaman led off with a single and came around to score on a wild pitch, sac bunt and Justin Meekins sac fly, tying the game at 6-6.
- The Knights loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 19th, but Benji Thalheimer induced a lineout and struck out Daynes to get out of the jam, at which point another passing rainstorm forced another 20-minute delay.
- Southern Virginia finally broke through for good in the top of the 23rd. Nate McCallum led off with a single and took second on a sac bunt. Will Parker followed with a base knock to right, scoring McCallum to put SVU up 7-6.
- Salisbury tried stringing together one more rally in the bottom of the 23rd. Christian Murphy led off with a base hit, but Meekins popped out on an attempt to bunt him up to second. Weddell singled to put the tying and winning runs on base, but Sky Rahill rolled into a 6-3 double play to end the game and give Southern Virginia the historic win.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Luke Weddell, Sky Rahill, Stephen Rice and Scott Cameron each tallied three of the Sea Gulls' 21 hits in the game, with Rice and Cameron accounting for the only three extra-base knocks.
- Justin Meekins, Weddell, Rice, Cameron and Jacob Ference each picked up an RBI.
- Benji Thalheimer (0-1) got stuck with the loss despite a valiant effort in relief. Thalheimer lasted 4.1 innings, allowing one run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
- Xavier Marmol started the game on Friday and pitched through the suspension, allowing one run on four hits in four-plus innings with five strikeouts.
- Brock Hilligoss went a team-high seven innings out of the bullpen, allowing an unearned run on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
- The Sea Gulls left 27 men on base as a team.
- Salisbury used 27 men in the game – 19 position players and eight pitchers. The Sea Gulls' roster consists of 38 players, meaning 71.1 percent of the SU roster appeared in the contest.
SOUTHERN VIRGINIA GAME NOTES
- Nate McCallum picked up four hits and scored the winning run in the 23rd for the Knights. Brady Lamb and Manny Lara each added four hits with Lara driving in two runs.
- In addition to driving in the winning run in the 23rd, Will Parker started the game on the mound, lasting four innings and giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits.
- Zach Zalar (1-0) finished off the final seven innings to earn the win, allowing one run on five hits.
- Zalar, Parx Bartholomew (six innings, no runs) and Josh Trentadue (six innings, two runs) all pitched what would be considered Quality Starts in relief outings. The three relievers combined for 19 innings of three-run relief, with Josh Vander Linden walking the only batter he faced in the 11th.
- The Knights left 18 men on base as a team.
GENERAL GAME NOTES
- The game ultimately endured three separate rain delays, including the suspension in the fifth inning on Friday and two 20-minute stoppages on Saturday afternoon, for a total run time of 6 hours 30 minutes over a 26-hour timespan.
- At 23 innings, the game goes down as the longest by innings in NCAA Division III history. The previous long was a 21-inning contest in which Rhodes beat Oglethorpe, 8-7, on April 22, 2011.