LYNDHURST, N.J. - - Squaring off against another NCBWA East Regional ranked opponent, the Wilmington University baseball team split with Felician, losing a pitcher's duel, 2-1, in the opener before earning a comeback victory, 12-3 (9 inn.), in the nightcap at Lyndhurst Recreation on Tuesday afternoon.
The Wildcats (22-14, 11-9 CACC) are ranked fifth in this week's NCBWA Regional poll while Felician (21-17, 15-5 CACC) moved up to number seven on Monday.
Kyle Maxwell (Wilmington, Del./Conrad) and Alex Schwartz were locked in a pitcher's duel in the opener, and all the scoring that happened in the game came in the first two innings.
Three of the Wildcats seven hits in the game came in the top of the first inning, as Dakota Graham and Kendall Small singled to put runners on first and third. Eddie Nevins then followed with an RBI single into left field, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead with only one out in the inning.
The Golden Falcons answered in the bottom of the second inning, starting the frame with back-to-back singles. Following a strikeout for the first out, an error on a play at second sailed into right field, allowing the first run to come across. Now with two outs, leadoff man LT Struble singled in the second run, giving the Falcons the 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats put the leadoff man on in the top of the fourth with a single by Nevins, but a failed sacrifice bunt left the runner at first as the inning ended. The Wildcats then put the leadoff man aboard in the top of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, but couldn't come up with the game tying run.
Julian Kurych started the seventh inning with a leadoff double, and was moved to third on a bunt single by Dan Hyatt. Frank Nigro lined a pitch back through the box, and Schwartz snagged the low liner and threw to first to double up Hyatt. He then got out of the inning with a grounder.
Dakota Graham started the eighth with a leadoff single, but a double play erased the single, as Graham slid into the shortstop for interference to end the threat.
Down to their last attempt, the Wildcats' Eddie Nevins walked to lead off the top of the ninth. Max Carney moved Nevins up to second with a sacrifice bunt, but Nick Nardulli struck out the final two batters to secure the 2-1 victory.
Maxwell struck out a career best 11 batters while allowing two unearned runs on six hits and only one walk in the tough luck loss. Justin Mears came on in the eighth and struck out his only batter, leaving two on.
The Wildcats and Golden Falcons were locked in another 2-1 battle throughout game two, until the Wildcats tied the contest in their final at-bat of regulation. They took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth, but the Falcons tied the game with a run of their own, sending it to the top of the ninth.
Starting with one out, the Wildcats regained a one-run lead, but then went on to score eight more runs with two outs in the top of the ninth. They scored nine runs on five hits, and were aided by two Felician errors in the inning.
Starter Noah Latshaw picked up the first two outs of the fourth inning, but then a single, walk, and hit by pitch quickly loaded the bases. Felician took the lead on a wild pitch, and gained a 2-0 lead with another bases loaded walk.
Down to their last chance in the top of the seventh, Derek Donastorg started the inning with a leadoff double to left center. Kendall Small quickly tied the score, 2-2, with the next at-bat, hitting another double to left center. Small moved up to third with no outs, but a strikeout, and two grounders left the go-ahead run at third.
Quintin Ivy started the top of the eighth off with a leadoff triple to left center, but was still standing there as Felician struck out the next two batters. Julian Kurcyh came up with a two-out tripe to left field, giving the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.
But a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth led to a sacrifice fly, tying the game once more and sending the game into the ninth.
The bases were then loaded with two outs and the floodgates opened up. Dan Hyatt and Julian Kurych were hit by pitches to bring in a pair of runs before an error added a third. Kendall Small, Eddie Nevins, and Brooks Ryan all followed with doubles, totaling five more runs and giving the Wildcats a 12-3 lead.
Kendall Small then stepped onto the mound and went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to secure the split.
Kendall Small and Brooks Ryan each went 4-for-6 with two doubles and three RBI, while Eddie Nevins batted 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI. Derek Donastorg, and Max Carney also had doubles for the Wildcats while Julian Kurych and Quintin Ivy had triples.
Latshaw pitched 4.1 innings and struck out four before Zach Frederick came on for the next 1.2 of scoreless relief. Rich Albrecht pitched the seventh and eighth, striking out three while allowing one unearned run on only one walk. He earned his first collegiate win with the effort. Small then struck out two in a scoreless ninth.
The Wildcats and Golden Falcons will be right back at it against each other on Friday, as Felician comes to New Castle to close out the CACC regular season series. First pitch at Wilson Field is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.