SALISBURY, Md. – The top-ranked Salisbury University baseball team picked up right where it left off last June in Cedar Rapids, securing a pair of 10-run wins over the Alfred State Pioneers, 17-7 and 13-3, during Saturday afternoon's season-opening doubleheader at Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 1
- After a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, the Sea Gulls wasted no time getting on the board in the home half of the first. Ethan Wentzlaff led off with a walk, then Kavi Caster looped a single into left. A sac bunt and hit batsman loaded the bases, and Sky Rahill hit a grounder to third for a fielder's choice-plus-error, scoring Wentzlaff for SU's first run of the season to go up 1-0.
- Jacob Ference and Luke Weddell led off the bottom of the second with back-to-back singles, then Jimmy Adkins beat out a bunt for another single to load the bases with no out. Wentzlaff came up next and drew a walk to force in a run. After a strikeout, Scott Cameron brought another run home on a fielder's choice, making it 3-0 Sea Gulls.
- The Pioneers got a pair back in the top of the third. Owen Lansing reached on a drop flyball to right to lead off. Three batters later Matteo Avallone pounded a two-run homer to right field, getting ASC back within one at 3-2.
- Salisbury answered with fury in the home third. Rahill led off with a single and Cameron Hyder was hit by a pitch to put two on. After a failed sac bunt and strikeout, Adkins slashed a two-run triple into the right center gap to make it 5-2.
- Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, and Cameron rolled a single up the middle to plate two more. After Cameron stole second to put two men in scoring position, Stephen Rice brought both home with a single to right, capping a six-run third by putting the Sea Gulls up 9-2.
- The Pioneers got four of those runs back in their next turn at bat. Bobby Sellers and Nick Serce led off the top of the fourth with back-to-back homers, then Gavin Moore kept the rally going with a single that chased Salisbury starter Jackson Balzan. After a walk to Devin Mersmann, Lansing poked a double to right to score Moore. Two batters later Ryan Santiago tapped a grounder to first but Mersmann beat the throw home, giving ASC a four-run inning and cutting the deficit to 9-6.
- The Sea Gulls responded in kind with another six-run frame in their fourth. With two outs and the bases loaded after three walks, Caster powered a gapper to left center, clearing the bases for a three-run double to make it 12-6. Cameron came up next and hit a high popup that third baseman Santiago dropped, and Caster raced all the way around to score on the error.
- Stephen Rice followed with a low liner to center that Moore dove for and missed. As the ball rolled all the way to the wall Rice raced around the bases for a two-run inside-the-park home run, pushing the Salisbury advantage to 15-6.
- The teams traded a run each in the fifth. Mersmann singled home a tally for ASC in the top of the frame, while Hyder scored on a balk in the Salisbury half to make it 16-7.
- SU tacked on one more in the seventh. Rahill led off with a double and advanced to third on a groundout, then Weddell lifted a sac fly into left to bring Rahill home and make it a 10-run lead at 17-7, where it would stay to the final out.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Stephen Rice powered the Sea Gulls from the cleanup slot, going 3-for-5 with an inside-the-park home run and four RBIs. The homer was the second in Rice's career.
- Kavi Caster and Scott Cameron drove in three runs each from the two- and three-holes. Caster went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, while Cameron finished 1-for-4 with a pair of runs and a pair of steals.
- Jimmy Adkins went 2-for-5 with a triple, run and two rib-eyes.
- Ethan Wentzlaff finished 0-for-1 but reached base five times in six plate appearances, drawing four walks and getting hit by a pitch. Wentzlaff scored three runs from the leadoff position.
- Benji Thalheimer (1-0) earned the victory at the scorer's discretion, finishing off the game with four scoreless two-hit innings. Thalheimer needed just 38 pitches to get the final 12 outs, walking none and fanning one.
- Jackson Balzan made his second straight Opening Day start for Salisbury and lasted three-plus innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits, including three home runs. Balzan walked one and struck out six on 64 pitches.
ALFRED STATE GAME NOTES
- Matteo Avallone led the way at the plate for the Pioneers, going 1-for-5 with a two-run home run.
- Bobby Sellers and Nick Serce hit back-to-back solo homers in the fourth.
- Devin Mersmann notched ASC's only multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-3 with a run and RBI.
- Starter AJ Gartland (0-1) was knocked out in the second, surrendering three runs on four hits in 1.2 innings with two walks and one strikeout to take the loss.
HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 2
- The Sea Gulls got on the board in the first inning without the benefit of a hit. The first three batters all reached on two hit batsmen and a walk, then Stephen Rice drew a bases-loaded free pass to force in a run and put SU up 1-0.
- Salisbury manufactured a pair more in the bottom of the second. Luke Weddell drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole second base. Jimmy Adkins followed with a walk of his own, and the two executed a double steal to get into scoring position.
- Kavi Caster came up next and hit a grounder to first that ate up Matteo Avallone, allowing Weddell to score. Adkins advanced to third and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0 Sea Gulls.
- Alfred State got all those runs back in the top of the third. Owen Lansing singled to lead off, then two batters later Gavin Moore got hit by a pitch to put two on. Avallone followed with his second homer of the doubleheader, a three-run round-tripper to right that tied the game at 3-3.
- The Sea Gulls answered immediately in their half of the third. Sky Rahill notched the first SU hit of the game, a chopping double down the right field line. Cameron Hyder's single put men on the corners, then after a strikeout Weddell was hit to load the bases. Adkins hit a fielder's choice to second, plating Rahill to put Salisbury back up 4-3.
- In the fourth SU tacked on one more as Rahill pegged his second double of the game into left center to bring in Scott Cameron and make it 5-3.
- Salisbury kept the bats alive with a three-run fifth. Jacob Ference walked and Weddell bounced a ground-rule double over the right center wall to put men on second and third. Adkins then lifted a flyball into center that Moore dropped, allowing both runners to score and put SU up 7-3.
- Adkins took off early from second base but stole third as the pitcher Ryan Bailey's throw sailed to the side wall, and Adkins trotted in for an 8-3 Sea Gulls lead.
- The Sea Gulls made it six straight scoring innings to open the game by plating two in the sixth. Hyder laid down a one-out bunt for a base hit, and Ference was hit by a pitch. After a double steal, Weddell rolled a two-run single up the middle to make it 10-3.
- Salisbury tagged four extra-base hits on the way to three more runs in the eighth. Hyder, Ben Anderson and Weddell pounded back-to-back-to-back doubles to score two, then Trent Saunders drove in another on a triple. Saunders was thrown out trying to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run, but the Sea Gulls still went up 13-3 and rolled to that final.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Luke Weddell led the way for the Sea Gulls in the nightcap, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs, three RBIs and two stolen bases.
- Cameron Hyder finished 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two swiped bags. He finished the twin bill with three two-sackers.
- Sky Rahill went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles plus a run and an RBI.
- Brock Hilligoss (1-0) picked up the win with 3.1 scoreless innings in relief, coming into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and striking out Gavin Moore to retire the side. Hilligoss gave up just one hit with no walks and struck out five.
- Zach Adams lasted 3.2 innings in his start, surrendering three runs on three hits with three walks and six punchouts.
- Xavier Marmol finished off the final two innings, scattering two hits and a walk while fanning a pair.
- The Sea Gulls stole an eye-popping 11 bases in the game, with Hyder, Weddell, Jimmy Adkins, Kavi Caster and Scott Cameron swiping two apiece.
- With two wins on Opening Day 2022, Salisbury has now won 16 straight games dating back to its 2021 regular season finale last May 8.
ALFRED STATE GAME NOTES
- Matteo Avallone accounted for half of the Pioneers' hits, going 3-for-4 with a double and three-run homer.
- Owen Lansing finished 1-for-3 with a run scored.
- Nick Serce (0-1) lasted four-plus innings in a losing effort, giving up six runs on three hits with five walks and four hit batsmen.
- The top-ranked Sea Gulls now set their sights on a titanic early-season matchup against second-ranked Cortland State on Friday afternoon.
- Salisbury and Cortland met twice during the 2021 College World Series, with the Sea Gulls besting the Red Dragons 11-1 and 11-8 en route to the national championship.
- The top two teams in NCAA Division III will play each other twice over the weekend, meeting on Friday and Sunday afternoon. The Sea Gulls will host Widener on Saturday.
- First pitch on Friday from Sea Gull Baseball Stadium is slated for 2 p.m. with coverage on the Sea Gull Sports Network (SGSN) beginning at 1:45 p.m.
Salisbury University is a proud member of NCAA Division III with primary membership in the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference, along with the New Jersey Athletic Conference for football and the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Conference for men's and women's swimming. With over 500 student-athletes in 21 varsity sports, SU is recognized as one of the most competitive intercollegiate athletics programs regardless of division, and dedicated coaches and staff that foster excellence on-and-off the field. The Sea Gulls have celebrated 22 team national championships, 24 individual national champions, 186 conference championships and 41 Academic All-Americans.
To learn more about the tradition of excellence with Sea Gull Athletics, visit www.SUSeaGulls.com or on social media @SUSeaGulls.