CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The sixth-ranked Salisbury University baseball team returned to college baseball's biggest stage with bang after bang, rolling past the Cortland State Red Dragons, 11-1, to open the 2021 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After a two-hour wait from their originally scheduled game time, the Sea Gulls wasted no time bringing their bats to life. Justin Meekins led off the bottom of the first by reaching second on a throwing error at third, then Kavi Caster drove him in with a single up the middle. Scott Cameron drew a walk to put two on, then two batters later Sky Rahill clubbed a three-run home run deep to right center, his team-leading sixth of the year, giving Salisbury a near-instant 4-0 lead.
- In the second, Luke Weddell drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sac bunt. After a groundout, Caster shot a grounder through the left side for an RBI single to make it 5-0 Sea Gulls.
- Salisbury made it three straight scoring innings with a two-out rally in the third. Rahill walked, then Cameron Hyder laid down a surprise bunt that resulted in an error by the pitcher. Jacob Ference came up next and slashed a single into left, scoring Rahill to push the SU lead to 6-0.
- In the fourth, Cullen McAuliffe hit a seed down the left field line that snuck over the big wall for a solo homer, his second of the year, giving the Sea Gulls a 7-0 lead and four straight scoring innings to open the game.
- The Red Dragons finally answered in the top of the fifth inning as James Varian went deep to left center for a solo home run, making it 7-1 Salisbury.
- The Sea Gulls got that run back in the bottom of the sixth. Meekins sparked a rally with a two-out single and a stolen base. After a walk to Caster, Cameron went the other way with an RBI base knock to put SU back up by seven runs at 8-1.
- By the seventh SU poured it on. With the bases loaded and one out, Weddell cracked a double to the wall in right center, bringing around two runs with a third runner thrown out at the plate. McAuliffe followed with an RBI two-sacker of his own, pushing the Sea Gull lead to 11-1, where it would stay to the 27th and final out.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Sky Rahill continued his torrid late-season hot streak for the Sea Gulls, going 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, three runs scored and four RBIs. Rahill now has six multi-RBI games in his last eight since May 15, bashing four home runs in the process.
- Cullen McAuliffe went 2-for-3 with a double, homer and two RBIs.
- Kavi Caster finished 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, while Luke Weddell drove in a pair of runs on a double and scored twice.
- Jackson Balzan (8-1) made the big lead stick all night, handling minor trouble in the second and sixth on the way to his first career complete game. Balzan allowed one run on a solo homer and scattered nine hits across nine complete innings, walking none and hitting two batters while striking out nine on just north of 100 pitches.
- Salisbury picks up its fourth-ever win in six trips to the Division III College World Series and its first in 10 years. The Sea Gulls' last CWS win came over Kean, 10-3, on May 28, 2011.
- With their 30th win of the year, the Sea Gulls have now won 30 or more games in 19 of their last 21 complete seasons. Only twice since 2000, excluding the truncated 2020 campaign, has Salisbury won fewer than 30 games, averaging 33.3 wins a year over that span.
CORTLAND STATE GAME NOTES
- James Varian drove in the Red Dragons' only run on their only extra-base hit, a fifth-inning solo homer. He finished 1-for-2.
- Scott Giordano and Mat Bruno each had a pair of hits.
- Scott Roberts (2-1) got knocked out in the fourth inning, surrendering seven runs (five earned) on five hits in 3.1 frames.
- The Sea Gulls advance into the winners' bracket of Pool B at the Division III College World Series, where they will next face Wheaton (Mass.) on Saturday night.
- The Lyons bested Rowan 6-0 in the game immediately preceding Salisbury's.
- First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 8:45 p.m. EDT/7:45 p.m. CDT, or approximately one hour following the conclusion of the Cortland-Rowan game.