MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - - Down to their final at-bat against Molloy, the Wilmington University baseball team put up four runs to secure the second of two wins on Opening Day on Friday, defeating Southern Connecticut State, 14-4, before coming back to take down Molloy, 6-3, at the Polo Grounds at the Ripken Experience.
Tied 3-3 with the bases empty and two outs in the top of the ninth, the Wildcats (2-0) loaded the bases before Rocky Ferrier cleared them to give the Wildcats the come-from-behind victory over Molloy and earn the Friday sweep.
In most baseball scenarios to start the season, the pitching always seems to be ahead of the curve compared to the bats, but that wasn't the case in the season opener for the Wildcats against Southern Connecticut. The bats started hot and collected 22 hits in the game, crossing the plate 14 times.
Ferrier started the day with a solid 4-for-5 performance at the plate against SCSU while Kendall Small matched him with a 4-for-6 game. Max Carney was right behind the duo by going 3-for-4, including launching a home run to right field in his first plate appearance of the season. Regan Hidalgo and Jesse Long also collected multiple hits for the Wildcats, going 2-for-6 with a team leading three RBI and 2-for-5, respectively.
Carney's homer opened the scoring in the top of the second but it was Hidalgo's two-run single to right in the fourth that broke the 1-1 tie. The Wildcats never looked back. Logan Gilbert collected an RBI single in his first collegiate at-bat in the fifth, putting the Wildcats up, 6-1. Two more runs came across on an error in the eighth inning before Small put the Wildcats up 9-1 with an RBI single back up the middle.
The Owls got to reliever Nick Grant in the bottom of the eighth, scoring an unearned run, but the transfer escaped without further damage to finish off his first appearance as a Wildcat.
The Wildcats put the game away in the top of the ninth, as Kyle Fries doubles in Gilbert before Joey Cautillo collected his first collegiate hit and RBI with a two-run single. The Wildcats capped the scoring with two more runs on an error, started by a single through the right side by Small. Micky Foytik came on for his first collegiate appearance and allowed a two-out unearned run, but closed the door on the season opening victory.
Zach Rumford started the game and pitched four strong, allowing five hits and one run while striking out four batters before turning it over to Grant. Grant picked up the win with four innings on the mound, striking out six while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits.
The Wildcats got out to the early lead against Molloy as well, as an error brought in Ferrier to open the scoring in the third inning. Molloy tied the game with a single in the fifth off starter Chuck Delagol before taking the lead with two runs in the seventh off reliever John Hetterman.
The comeback started in the eighth for the Wildcats, as they put runners on second and third with no outs in the inning. Gilbert scored on a wild pitch, but Jesse Long was stranded at third base as the Lions came up with three straight outs, keeping the lead 3-2.
Nick Macey started the ninth with a leadoff walk before Small singled back up the middle to put runners on first and third. Hidalgo grounded into a 6-4-3- double play, but the tying run came home from third on the play.
With the bases empty and two outs in the inning, Carney walked to be the spark and Gilbert and Long followed suit with two more base on balls. Ferrier stepped in and doubled to right field, chasing all three runners home in the process. Latshaw gave up a one out walk in the ninth, but got two ground balls to end the game and pick up the win.
Delagol went five while allowing one run on five hits, but striking out three batters. Hetterman also struck out three batters in his 1.2 innings of work while Frederick allowed just one hit in his 1.0 inning.
The Wildcats opening weekend in Myrtle Beach continues with a contest against last season's East Regional Champion and nationally ranked Franklin Pierce. First pitch is slated for 10:30 a.m.