The Captains beat Salisbury and claim the solo top spot in the CAC
Number one in the nation, and now holding the top spot in the CAC by themselves, the Captains baseball team has built a solid foundation heading into the end of the season.
The baseball team has had some varying levels of competition this year, and so far has overcome all the opposition they have faced, but this past weekend was easily the fiercest competition they have come up against all season. The Seagulls of Salisbury, ranked 15 in the nation at the time of the games, gave the Captains a serious headache in the three game series. CNU came from behind to win game one by a score of 11-7, increasing their win streak to 13 in a row.
The next day the Seagulls would shut the Captains offense down completely and end the winning streak for the Captains and tie the CAC back up at 10-1 after winning 1-0 in a nailbiter.
This set up the final game between the two top 20 teams to be the decider for the CAC lead.
Both teams came into the third game needing a win as while there are a few games left to go this season, getting an early lead in the CAC over another top 20 team is a big deal.
The stage was set for a thrilling game three matchup by two of the best teams in Division III baseball and the Captains and the Seagulls delivered on all the promise of a good game. The Captains led things off with #19 Nathan Clements as their starting pitcher. Clements made it through four innings allowing two runs and no strikeouts. After four innings of work, Clements made way for #17 Tyler Jumper in relief.
Jumper came into the game with a 4-0 record and was eventually credited with the win after throwing two scoreless innings of relief work and striking out three Salisbury batters in the process.
In the bottom of the second, the Captains put up a tally of three runs against the Seagulls off the bat of #18 Eric O’Brien and #5 Joe Cutchins as well as a wild pitch from the Seagulls starting pitcher #7 Xavier Marmol. The Captains would then keep this lead through the third inning, but they ran into some trouble in the fourth. With Clements still on the mound, the Captains gave up two runs, one of which was a homerun by #11 Justin Meekins of the Seagulls.
Tensions were eased a bit in the fifth inning as the Captains drove in another run off of a single from #1 Conner Clark to make the score 4-2.
The Captains kept this lead and never looked back as they scored another three runs in the seventh inning to give them a 7-2 lead that they would take all the way to the end of the game.
The runs were scored off the bat of a second RBI single from Clark as well as a two run single from #10 Nick DiNapoli.
As the Captains went on to win the game against Salisbury they improved their record to 23-3 on the season and 11-1 in the CAC. This puts them a whole game ahead of Salisbury who currently stand at 10-2 in the CAC and are the Captains’ main competitors.
The Captains go into the end of the season in a great position to take home the CAC championship.
They still have several series left in the season against CAC opposition. Southern Virginia, Penn State Harrisburg and York (Pa.) are the remaining CAC opponents for the Captains.
Of the remaining competition York (Pa.) could pose a threat to the Captains in the final games of the season. Currently, York sits just behind Salisbury with a record of 9-2 in the CAC, but unlike Salisbury York remains out of the top 25 teams in the nation, and at the time of writing has not received any votes.
CNU still does have some top 25 competition left this year as they will close the season at eight ranked Randolph Macon. Earlier in the year the Captains defeated the Yellow Jackets 4-3 at home.
The next game for the Captains also happens to be out of the CAC as they will take on Hampden Sydney once again. Hampden Sydney was one of the three losses the Captains have suffered this year as the Tigers took down the Captains by a score of 5-9 at Captains Park.
The team will be looking to get some revenge on the Tigers as they travel to Hampden Sydney for their next game on April 10.
For coverage of CNU baseball as they head into the final weeks of the season and the CAC tournament, as well as all other CNU sports teams, go to CNUSports.com the home of CNU Athletics.
~Michael Innacelli, Sports Editor & Managing CNUTV Editor~