Press Release Written by Sports Information Graduate Intern MaryKate Rumbaugh
WATERBURY, Conn. – Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, South Division No. 2 seeded Wilmington University baseball's Luke Johnson hit a three-run home run to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead over North Division No. 2 seeded Dominican to help advance Wilmington to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon in Waterbury, Connecticut.
The Wildcats (37-16) got the first inning started thanks to a hit by pitch to put leadoff hitter Dakota Graham on. Kendall Small and Eddie Nevins would both advance Graham, putting him in scoring position for Luke Johnson. Johnson would hit a two-out RBI single through the right side to score Graham and give WilmU a 1-0 lead over the Chargers. Max Carney would load the bases for WilmU, but the Wildcats would leave the bases loaded to end the inning.
Dominican tied the ballgame at one apiece in the top of the third on an error at home plate from the Wildcats, which was argued and eventually caused the ejection of head coach Brian August.
Kendall Small would start things in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single, before the next two batters would advance Small to third with two outs. Small would then give the Wildcats back the one-run lead on a wild pitch after five full.
The Chargers wouldn't get things going until the top of the seventh with a triple to tie the ballgame at 2-2. With one out and a pitching change for the Wildcats, the Chargers would score the runner from third on a single down the right field line to give Dominican their first lead of the game, making it 3-2. Pitcher Justin Mears would let up double, but then get two straight outs to strand the runners at second and third to head into the Wildcats at bats.
With one out, Kendall Small gave WilmU some momentum with a double down the left field line, before the Chargers intentionally walked Eddie Nevins to put two on and bring up CACC home run and RBI leader Luke Johnson. Johnson would take advantage of the decision, as he hit his 12th homerun of the season out to left field to give Wilmington a 5-3 lead heading into the eighth.
Dominican looked to get the two runs back in the top of the eighth, as they put runners on first and second with one out, but Zach Frederick would get them to groundout into a double play to end the Chargers' chances. Kendall Small would come into the ninth and close the game out, leaving a one out walk on first.
Sean Deely would get the start for WilmU and go 6.0 innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, and four walks, while striking out four batters. Justin Mears would get the win and go to 1-4 overall, while Kendall Small picked up his first save of the season.
Small would go 3-for-4 throughout the game with a double, as Luke Johnson went 2-for-4 with four RBI, including a three-run home run. Frank Nigro also went 2-for-4 for the Wildcats, while Max Carney, Eddie Nevins, and Dakota Graham all had one hit for WilmU.
Dominican would leave 10 runners on the bases throughout the contest, with the Wildcats committing two errors.
With the win, Wilmington advances to the CACC Championship game tomorrow afternoon against Dominican starting at 12:00 p.m., as they defeated North Division No. 4 Bloomfield in the elimination game.