HIGH POINT, N.C. – The sixth-ranked and top-seeded Salisbury University baseball team moved within one win of its first College World Series berth since 2015, besting the Lynchburg Hornets, 6-1, in Saturday night's NCAA Tournament game in the High Point Regional at Truist Point.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After a thunderstorm that delayed the start of the game by five and a half hours, the Sea Gull bats showed no adverse effects from the long wait. Justin Meekins led the game off with a walk and took second on a groundout. After a Scott Cameron single put men on the corners, Meekins was thrown out on at the plate on a botched squeeze bunt. Sky Rahill drew a walk to load the bases, and Cameron Hyder tagged a two-run single into right center, opening the scoring to put SU up 2-0.
- Salisbury doubled its lead in the top of the third. Stephen Rice singled to lead off and stole second despite being picked off. After a flyout and a Hyder single, Jacob Ference lashed a triple into the right center gap, scoring Rice and Hyder to give the Sea Gulls a 4-0 advantage.
- After breezing through the first four innings, SU starter Jackson Balzan ran into trouble in the fifth. The Hornets' Gavin Collins led off with a walk, then Carrson Atkins doubled down the right field line to put men on second and third with no out. Balzan buckled down from there, though, striking out the next two batters getting Parker Shaffer to fly out to left, escaping the jam unscathed.
- The Hornets finally got on the board in the sixth. Garrett Jackson led off with a single, then two batters later Avery Neaves doubled him over to third. PJ Alvanos lifted a sac fly into center to bring Jackson home and make it 4-1 Salisbury.
- SU wasted no time getting that run back and then some. Cameron led off the seventh with a base knock and advanced to third on a sac bunt and groundout. Hyder came up next and slashed an RBI double down the left field line to put the Sea Gulls back up by four. Ference followed with a run-scoring single to push the lead to 6-1, which is where it would stay to the final out.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Cameron Hyder provided the spark once again at the plate for the Sea Gulls, going 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and three RBIs. Hyder now has eight hits in 14 at-bats (.571) in the High Point Regional and has strung together five straight multi-hit games.
- Jacob Ference finished 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs.
- Scott Cameron and Stephen Rice had two hits and two runs apiece.
- Jackson Balzan (7-1) spun a masterpiece in his first start in two weeks to pick up the biggest win of his career. Balzan went a career-long eight innings, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and a career-high 12 strikeouts on 124 pitches. The Hornets' sixth-inning run snapped a 22-inning scoreless streak for Balzan that dated back to April 30.
- Clayton Dwyer came in to relieve Balzan and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, sealing the deal on Salisbury's third straight win to open the High Point Regional.
LYNCHBURG GAME NOTES
- Garrett Jackson finished 1-for-2 and scored the Hornets' only run of the game.
- Doubles by Avery Neaves and Carrson Atkins accounted for UL's only two other hits.
- Kinston Carson (3-2) got knocked out in the third inning, taking the loss by surrendering four runs on five hits over 2.1 frames.
- The Sea Gulls advance to the championship round of the High Point Regional and one win from punching their ticket to the 2021 NCAA Division III World Series in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
- Salisbury will play on Sunday at 3 p.m. and will face the winner of the 11:30 a.m. matchup between Lynchburg and Birmingham-Southern.
- With a win, the Sea Gulls would advance to the College World Series. With a loss, SU would play one more game against the UL-BSC winner on Monday with the winner of the game advancing to Cedar Rapids.