SALISBURY, Md. – One year after discovering it was, in fact, heaven, the seventh-ranked Salisbury University baseball team is headed back to Iowa.
The Sea Gulls outlasted the Wooster Fighting Scots to win an ultracompetitive Salisbury Super Regional, falling 6-4 in Game 2 before winning a back-and-forth winner-take-all Game 3, 18-16, on Sunday afternoon at Donnie Williams Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
With the win, Salisbury clinched its second straight trip to the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, which will begin in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, June 3.
HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 2
- Just like in Saturday's opener, the Fighting Scots scored in their first turn at bat. With one out in the top of the first inning, Ben Hines was plunked and eventually stole second base. Two batters later Ed Westrick pegged a single into left to score Hines and put Wooster up 1-0.
- The Sea Gulls wasted no time answering. Cameron Hyder lined the first pitch of the bottom of the first into left for a base hit. After a strikeout and a walk to Kavi Caster, Stephen Rice found the hole on the left side for an RBI single, scoring Hyder to tie it 1-1.
- Hyder's hustle provided Salisbury its first lead in the third. He led off with a double to left center, then Patrick Campbell bunted him over to third. Caster hit a sharp grounder to first and Hyder broke for the plate, evading the tag once and stretching to touch the plate ahead of a second tag to give SU a 2-1 lead.
- After struggling to find a rhythm at the plate, Wooster got a rally going in the top of the seventh. Michael Thomas worked a one-out walk, then Ben Gbur and Hines were each hit by pitches to load the bases. Tyler Chumita tied the game on an RBI groundout to second, then Gbur scored on a wild pitch, putting the Scots back up 3-2.
- Westrick struck again by bouncing a grounder through the left side for an RBI single to make it 4-2.
- Just like in the first, the Sea Gulls responded in the home half of the seventh. Jacob Ference walked to lead off and Scott Cameron was hit to put two men on. Trent Saunders advanced the runners on a sac bunt and Luke Weddell brought Ference home on an RBI groundout. Hyder came up next and dunked a single into left, bringing home Cameron to tie it 4-4.
- The Scots punched back in the eighth. Nick Pett was hit by a pitch with one out, then Dominic Stilliana and Thomas hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Gbur singled home the go-ahead run, then Hines worked a bases-loaded walk to force in another and make it 6-4 Wooster.
- Gbur came in from center field to close out the Sea Gulls in the final two innings and force a decisive Game 3.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Cameron Hyder finished 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored from the leadoff slot.
- Kavi Caster and Stephen Rice each had a hit and an RBI.
- Robbie Hollenbeck (0-1) took the loss after giving up the two go-ahead Wooster runs in his two-thirds of an inning.
- Benji Thalheimer turned in 6.1 sold innings in a no-decision, surrendering three runs on four hits, one walk, three hit batsmen and three strikeouts over 85 pitches.
WOOSTER GAME NOTES
- Ben Gbur finished 2-for-4 with a run and the go-ahead RBI in the eighth.
- Eli Westrick continued to hit with men in scoring position, finishing 2-for-5 with a pair of rib-eyes.
- Ben Hines doubled and finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored.
- Dominic Stilliana and Michael Thomas combined to go 3-for-6 with two runs scored from the eight- and nine-holes.
- Mitchell Reardon (7-6) earned the win in relief for the Scots, allowing two runs on one hit in three innings of work.
- Gbur earned the save by coming in from center and pitching two scoreless innings, striking out a pair.
- Owen Barnard went four innings in his start, giving up two runs on four hits with one walk and two punchouts.
HOW IT HAPPENED – GAME 3
- The Sea Gulls jumped ahead instantly with a big top of the first inning. Patrick Campbell singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Kavi Caster RBI single. Stephen Rice followed with a walk, then after a flyout Zach Geesaman lined a base hit into left center to score Caster and put SU up 2-0.
- Scott Cameron and Ethan Wentzlaff followed with back-to-back walks, the latter of which forced in another run to make it 3-0.
- The Fighting Scots rebounded and got a run back in the bottom of the first. Ben Gbur led off with a triple and scored on a Ben Hines sac fly to get it back to 3-1.
- Salisbury put together another big inning in the top of the second. Campbell worked a one-out walk, then Caster found the left-center gap for an RBI double. Rice followed with a run-scoring base hit to left, making it 5-1 SU.
- Sky Rahill kept the rally going with a walk, then after a popout and a wild pitch Cameron was put on intentionally to load the bases. Wentzlaff cleared those bases with a three-run double to center, and Luke Weddell followed with his own run-scoring two-sacker to make it a six-run inning and 9-1 lead.
- Wooster answered with its own six-spot in the bottom of the second. With two out and nobody on Michael Thomas was hit by a pitch, and Gbur followed with a two-run home run to dead center. Hines then singled and Tyler Chumita doubled him home, then after a hit batsman Dane Camphausen clubbed a three-run homer to left, getting the Scots back within 9-7.
- Salisbury returned fire with a haymaker of its own in the top of the third. Caster and Rice hit one-out singles, then after a fielder's choice Geesaman launched a three-run bomb to left to make it 12-7.
- The Scots got one back in the home third on a single, walk and Gbur base hit, making it 12-8.
- Rahill blasted a solo homer on the first pitch of the top of the fifth, boosting the SU lead to 13-8.
- Wooster roared back in the bottom of the fifth to take its first lead. Two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases, and Chumita drew a bases-loaded free pass to force in a run. After an RBI groundout by Westrick and an intentional walk, Nick Pett blasted a go-ahead grand slam to right to put the Scots up 14-13.
- Dean Brown restarted the rally with a single, then after a walk Thomas singled him home to make it 15-13.
- The Sea Gulls brought out the boom sticks to tie the game in the top of the seventh. Caster mashed a solo homer, then two batters later Rahill went yard for the second time in the game to bring it even at 15-15.
- Wooster seesawed back ahead in the bottom of the seventh on a Pett single, sac bunt and Thomas RBI double, making it 16-15.
- In the top of the eighth, Weddell poked a one-out single to left, then Hyder belted a go-ahead two-run homer to right field, vaulting Salisbury back in front 17-16 on the Sea Gulls' fifth home run of the day.
- Salisbury tacked on one more insurance run in the top of the ninth. Cameron doubled to lead off, then after a Trent Saunders sac bunt Weddell brought him home with a single, doubling the Sea Gull lead to 18-16.
- Alex Gaspar gave Wooster one last gasp with a one-out pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth, but Brock Hilligoss got Stilliana to fly out to right and struck out Thomas swinging, setting off a wild and cathartic celebration after the three-hour, 47-minute marathon.
SALISBURY GAME NOTES
- Cameron Hyder's go-ahead two-run shot in the top of the eighth was only his second career home run in four seasons with the Sea Gulls. He finished the game 1-for-7 but provided the game's biggest swing.
- Hyder was named Most Outstanding Player of the Salisbury Super Regional after going 5-for-14 with a double, homer, stolen base, three runs scored and three RBIs over the three games.
- Kavi Caster reached base all six times he came to bat, finishing 4-for-4 with a double, home run, three RBIs, four runs scored and two intentional walks.
- With his seventh-inning blast, Caster now has 12 home runs this season, bringing him within one of Dave Westervelt's 1998 Salisbury record of 13. Caster joins Justin Armiger (2008), Mike Celenza (2009) and Jack Barry (2017) in a tie for second in single-season Sea Gull history.
- Sky Rahill went 2-for-5 with two solo home runs and four runs scored.
- Zach Geesaman went 2-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs, while Ethan Wentzlaff also picked up four rib-eyes after going 1-for-4 with a double and a run.
- Luke Weddell finished 4-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored.
- Justin McDermott (2-2) earned the win in relief after holding the Fighting Scots to one run on three hits over 2.1 innings. He walked one and struck out two.
- Brock Hilligoss locked down his first save of the year with two scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit and striking out three. Hilligoss' one-two-three eighth inning was the only such inning for either side in the entire game.
- Xavier Marmol lasted two innings in his start, giving up seven runs on seven hits.
WOOSTER GAME NOTES
- Ben Gbur finished 3-for-5 with a triple, homer, two runs and three RBIs, finishing a double shy of the cycle.
- Dane Camphausen went 2-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored.
- Nick Pett belted the Fighting Scots' go-ahead grand slam in the fifth inning; he finished 2-for-4 with two runs and four rib-eyes.
- Pett (0-1) took the loss for the Scots after giving up three runs over an inning-plus, including the game-tying homer to Rahill in the seventh and the go-ahead homer to Hyder in the eighth.
- Gbur lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his start, surrendering three runs on three hits and three walks.
- The Sea Gulls and Fighting Scots combined for 36 hits and eight home runs in a game that saw Wooster come back from deficits of 9-1 and 13-8.
- All three games of the Salisbury Super Regional were decided by two-run margins.
- Salisbury has punched its ticket to the 2022 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship, which will be held at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from June 3-8.
- This is the Sea Gulls' seventh trip all-time to the Division III "College World Series" and the second time SU has made back-to-back appearances (2014-15).
- SU will seek to become the first team to repeat as Division III national champions since Marietta in 2011-12.
- Salisbury's seeding and matchup in the eight-team double-elimination tournament will be determined and revealed on Monday at 3 p.m.
SALISBURY SUPER REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
- Most Outstanding Player: Cameron Hyder (OF, SAL)
- C: Michael Thomas (WOO)
- 1B: Sky Rahill (SAL)
- 2B: Eli Westrick (WOO)
- 3B: Luke Weddell (SAL)
- SS: Stephen Rice (SAL)
- OF: Cameron Hyder (SAL)
- OF: Kavi Caster (SAL)
- OF: Dominic Stilliana (WOO)
- DH: Ben Gbur (WOO)
- P: Brandon Epstein (SAL)
- P: Brock Hilligoss (SAL)
- P: Dean Brown (WOO)
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, 189 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.