By DREW KESSLER
On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher Newport University comes into Salisbury to play one of the biggest games of the year for both teams. A lot is on the line for both teams.
The Sea Gulls have a one game lead over the Captains for the top of the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) standings. With only three conference games remaining for both teams, the winner of Wednesday’s game will be in the driver’s seat to host the CAC postseason tournament.
Salisbury is comes in as one of the hottest teams in the conference in control of their own destiny to hosting the CAC tournament. They have won nine out of their last 10 games. Their only loss during the stretch came Monday when they lost at No. 10 John Hopkins 5-4 in 10 innings.
During this extended hot streak, they have moved up to their highest ranking in the D3baseball.com Top 25 this year, coming in this week at No. 18. It’s only the third time this year the rankings have featured the Gulls, after starting the season at No. 25
The Sea Gulls are the defending CAC Champions from a season ago, defeating the No. 1 CAC seed Frostburg St. 9-8 in the championship game. However, Salisbury is looking to win the CAC regular season title for the first time since 2013, when they hosted the conference tournament and won the championship defeating York (PA) 4-0.
For Wednesday’s game, the two multi-sport rivals meet once more. Since 2012, 10 match-ups have featured the Gulls and the Captains together with each team taking five. Christopher Newport gave Salisbury their only conference loss this season when they beat the Sea Gulls 5-4 in 10 innings on Mar. 22 earlier this season. Salisbury has responded nicely since that tough loss with the start of their nine game win streak.
The Captains come into this game looking to rebound after a tough weekend, losing a double header at Wesley College 8-3 and 8-5 which ended their undefeated conference record. The Wesley Wolverines were only 7-8 in conference. With the losses, the Captains do not have much room to operate now out of first place and one game behind the Sea Gulls.
With two strong pitching staffs, a great pitching duel is sure to develop. We will have the two best team conference ERA’s with the Captains in first at 3.25 ERA and the Sea Gulls close behind at second with a 3.88 ERA. After a rough start for the Sea Gulls’ pitching staff this season, the staff has really stepped up in conference play with a 2.85 conference ERA.
For the CAC regular season crown, it will come right down to the wire on the last day of the regular season on Saturday. The standings right now are:
- Salisbury (14-1)
- Christopher Newport (13-2)
- York (PA) (9-6).
It will come down to either Salisbury or Christopher Newport to host the CAC tournament. And there are two scenarios for either school to clinch the CAC regular season title:
If Salisbury wins tomorrow against the Captains, they will have a two game lead. They will host York (PA) on Saturday which is senior day for Salisbury. All they will need is to win one of those two games on Saturday, and then they will clinch the No. 1 seed and host the CAC tournament.
If Salisbury loses tomorrow, they will then need some help. There would be a tie for first place between the Captains and Sea Gulls. But, CNU will hold the tie breaker since they would have beaten Salisbury twice this season.
Christopher Newport will host Penn St. Harrisburg (7-8 CAC) for a double header on Saturday. If the Captains win both games, they will clinch the No. 1 seed and host the CAC tournament.
The bottom line is that there is much potential chaos that could happen in the last week of the regular season to determine who will have home-field advantage in the upcoming conference tournament.