By: Chase Gorski
The No. 24 ranked Sea Gulls began their 2017 season on a high note at home on Saturday, topping the Gwynedd Mercy Griffins in an offensive slugfest with a final score of 20-12.
Salisbury (1-0) relied on their offense to carry the weight after starting senior pitcher Pete Grasso had to battle early in the game. The Gulls led the way with 17 hits, three of which came via homeruns.
The Griffins (0-1) took the lead in the top of the first, after two RBI singles by junior right fielder Shaughn Wright and sophomore catcher Tommy Nardini. Once Grasso induced a ground ball to end the inning, Salisbury began an eight run, bottom half of the first to end the Griffins only lead of the game.
The inning was led off with a single by freshman center fielder Justin Meekins, who scored on a double by junior left fielder Kyle Canavan. The starting pitcher joined in on the scoring frenzy with an RBI single of his own.
The true spark was a three-run homerun by sophomore third baseman Jack Barry. Barry, who went 3-4 at the plate with three RBIs, elaborated on how the team was able to jump on opposing pitchers.
“When we played Gwynedd Mercy last year we saw that most of their pitchers were low in velocity and threw high-impact strikes,” Barry explained. “We really focused on, in warmups and the pregame, trying to drive the ball the other and use the wind we have here.”
The pregame planning paid off later in the inning when Meekins also left the ballpark with a two-run homer later in the first.
Gwynedd Mercy battled back to cut Salisbury’s lead to 9-6 after the third inning, but Salisbury’s offense exploded for yet another eight-run inning in the bottom of the fourth. Junior right fielder Colby Dean, sophomore second baseman Ron Villone, junior shortstop Scott Ardoin and Meekins all recorded RBIs in an inning that concluded with a three-run homerun by senior catcher Tom LaBriola to push the Gulls lead to 17-6.
The offense was led by Meekins, who made his Salisbury debut after missing last season due to injury. Meekins, who went 4-4 at the plate with five RBIs, talked about what it meant to finally be out on the field with the team.
“This fall I got a lot closer to all the guys, it was just awesome to go out there with all of them and give everything I got for them” Meekins said.
Despite some bright spots on the mound, including scoreless outings by both Salisbury junior pitchers Ryan Gough and Andrew Kramer and a total of 11 strikeouts by the pitching staff, head coach Troy Brohawn saw a few aspects that need to be improved.
“Fastball location and lack of command with breaking balls,” Coach Brohawn said.
These two problems along with what the head coach called ‘a lack of aggression at times against batters’ led to allowing 19 total hits and 12 runs to the Griffins. While the Gulls came away with the opening day victory, Coach Brohawn hopes that there are not many games in the future with similar scores, in reference to the opposing teams final score.
“We know we can score some runs, but I don’t want to be in 20-12 ballgames every single time, we had enough of that last year,” Brohawn said. “We got some older guys out there this year that we just expect more out of.”
The pitching staff will have their chance at redemption throughout the long season, which continues Sunday on the road against Virginia Wesleyan.