WATERBURY, Conn. - - Last year it took the performance of the pitching staff of the Wilmington University baseball team to claim the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship, but the 2019 version was led by the bats, as the Wildcats won back-to-back titles with a 14-8 victory over Dominican on Saturday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.
It is the first time the Wildcats won back-to-back CACC Tournament Championships since they won three straight from 2011-13. This is also head coach Brian August and the Wildcats' eighth conference championship since becoming NCAA eligible for the 2005 season. V
With the win, the Wildcats earn the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament and await their fate with the NCAA Selection Show scheduled for Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. on NCAA.com.
The Wildcats led the conference in hitting all season long, and needed the bats more than ever in Saturday's championship game. They trailed at multiple points throughout the day, including 2-0, 4-1, and 7-5, before scoring nine runs in their final four at-bats to claim the trophy.
CACC Tournament MVP Max Carney put the Wildcats on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the second, and then gave the home team a 5-4 lead with a two-run single in the bottom of the third. But Dominican answered right back with a three-run top of the fourth, and carried their 7-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
But that is when the Wildcats' bats took off, as Kendall Small reached by getting hit by a pitch to start the inning. CACC Player of the Year Eddie Nevins then tripled to chase home Small before Luke Johnson singled to score Nevins and tie the game, 7-7. Now with two outs in the inning, the Wildcats executed a first and third double steal to take the lead before Brett Nowell singled into right field to score Carney for the 9-7 advantage.
The Chargers tacked on a run with a sacrifice fly, but the Wildcats finished out the game with five unanswered runs to take the Championship. Nevins had an RBI ground out before Luke Johnson made it 11-8 with an RBI single. Dakota Graham then hit a double to the gap in right center for two more runs in the seventh before Brooks Ryan capped the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth for the 14-8 lead.
Starting pitcher Dan Hyatt didn't have his typical start, but went five and struck out three while allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits to improve to 9-1 on the year. Danny Sullivan tossed 2.1 innings while only allowing one unearned runs before Zach Frederick came on and finished off the eighth. Kendall Small then struck out a pair in the ninth, including the championship out to spark the dog pile.
Max Carney went 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored while Luke Johnson went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored. Dakota Graham, Eddie Nevins, and Brooks Ryan each had two hits as well, with Nevins collecting four RBI.
The Wildcats also have won CACC Tournament Championships in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2018.