By ZACH GILLELAND
What: Salisbury baseball hosts Franklin & Marshall College
Where: SU Baseball Field
When: 1 pm Saturday
How to watch: Sea Gull Sports Network
Following a two-game winning streak, the Salisbury University baseball team looks to achieve its first winning record since its 2-0 start as the team hosts Franklin & Marshall College and Dickinson College this weekend.
The first leg of the three-game stretch starts with a visit from the Franklin & Marshall Diplomats on Saturday. Finishing 16-20-1 a season ago, Franklin & Marshall boasts a team with veteran talent aiming to prove themselves against a perennial power like Salisbury.
Salisbury: After dropping four consecutive games, the Sea Gulls find themselves on a two-game winning streak. Following what is arguably its toughest stretch of the season, Salisbury faces a team unfamiliar to them in Franklin & Marshall. With a 7-6 win over Washington College Thursday, the team hopes to continue their streak.
Offense: Possessing the Capital Athletic Conference’s (CAC) second-best batting average at .308, it has never been a question whether the Sea Gulls will hit. Outslugging one of the nation’s top teams in Oswego St. 13-12 on Sunday, Salisbury has scored 10 or more runs in four games this season, averaging almost nine runs per game. Sophomore first baseman Jay Perry leads the maroon and gold with three home runs and nine runs batted in (RBI). A deep lineup, six Sea Gull batters hold a .300 batting average or higher with a minimum of 10 at-bats.
Pitching: Command and defense miscues are the source of Salisbury’s woes on the mound this season. This week was promising for the Gulls, as the team got a solid outing from junior right-hander Brad Keith, who went six and one third innings and walked only three batters. The SU staff has had trouble giving up the long ball, surrendering 10 home runs in eight games. Errors have also hurt the maroon and gold this season, as the team averages a CAC-worst 2.75 errors per game. With a long weekend ahead of them, look to see many faces on the mound.
Player to Watch: Senior right-hander Micah Wells
Roughed up in the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday against Oswego St., the Sea Gulls are hoping for a rebound from Wells. In his second start in pinstripes, the transfer from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte faces a Diplomats team that has relied on its seniors to create offense. Look for the righty to bounce back Saturday.
SU junior infielder Simon Palenchar takes a ball at the plate vs. Washington College. Sophie Wilson photo
Franklin & Marshall
Starting the season 1-2, Franklin & Marshall heads to Salisbury to take on a strong Sea Gull team. With a mix of veteran talent and newcomers, the Diplomats come in with something to prove.
Offense: Averaging six runs through its first three games, Franklin & Marshall has relied on its seniors to score runs with all of the team’s 17 RBIs coming off the bats of its junior and seniors. Leading the team offensively is senior right fielder David Iacobucci, who holds a .545 batting average and five RBIs.
Pitching: As opposed to their offense, the Diplomats have turned to their young arms with starts from freshmen Jack Buckley and Jonathan Cole. The freshmen had solid starts with both pitchers making it to the seventh inning. Franklin & Marshall holds the edge in pitching over Salisbury, as the Diplomats held a 4.98 earned run average (ERA) a season ago. Facing the big bats of the Sea Gulls, the pitching staff may have a difficult time Saturday.
Player to Watch: Senior right fielder David Iacobucci
With a Salisbury pitching staff that has seen its share of struggles, Franklin & Marshall will look to take advantage. The senior has a hit in all three games this season, including a home run against Washington & Lee. To combat the Sea Gull bats, the Diplomats will need to have a strong offensive performance.
What: Salisbury baseball hosts Dickinson College
Where: SU Baseball Field
When: Noon and 2:30 p.m. (30 minutes after Game One conclusion)
The second match-up of the weekend sees Salisbury take on another member of the Centennial Conference in a doubleheader against the Red Devils of Dickinson College.
Dickinson: The Red Devils come into the game with a 3-0 record to start the season, including an 8-4 win against CAC member Penn. St-Harrisburg. With strong offense and pitching through its first three games, the Red Devils pose a tough challenge for the Sea Gulls.
Offense: Like Salisbury, Dickinson’s offense has the ability to put runs on the board. With a .345 batting average through their first three games, the majority of the runs for the Red Devils have come from the top of the order. Dickinson has shown its ability to hit for power, as 18 of the team’s 39 hits have gone for extra bases.
Pitching: The Red Devils’ pitching staff has shown strength so far this season, with a 2.00 ERA through three games. Dickinson has shut down the bats of opposing teams, not allowing more than five runs in a game. Facing a strong offense in Salisbury, the Red Devils’ chances may be on the arms of their staff.
Player to Watch: Senior catcher Rick Hopkins
Leading Dickinson in hits, the senior catcher has seven hits in 14 at-bats, including multi-hit performances in all three games. A .300 hitter a season ago, Hopkins not only is a strong hitter, but also has the task of calling the game behind the plate.