By ZACH GILLELAND
Tallying 61 runs through three games in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament, it has never been a question as to whether the Sea Gulls will produce at the plate.
That offense carried the Salisbury University baseball team to the CAC Championship game after piling on 25 runs on Wesley College en route to a 25-10 win on Friday.
As the temperature rose throughout the morning, the bats of the maroon and gold struck fire as the Sea Gulls (29-8, 20-1 CAC) produced 20 hits with eight of the nine starters recording a hit. The power was on display again as four different SU players connected on a home run.
“It’s so much easier to pitch with the lead,” Salisbury starter Micah Wells said. “It just takes all the stress of you as a pitcher and we’re just going to keep on swinging like we are.”
The first inning has been the charm for the Sea Gulls as seven runners came across to score in the inning. In their three games in the tournament, SU has scored 18 runs in the first inning.
A double with the bases loaded off the bat of senior catcher Tom LaBriola brought home three runs. The senior captain—in one of his final games at the SU Baseball Field—drove in six runs off three hits.
Three batters later junior right fielder Colby Dean came to the dish and delivered a two-run blast that almost cleared the screen in right field. The JUCO transfer’s third home run of the season gave Salisbury a 7-0 lead.
Wesley starter Sam Meck had no answer to the Sea Gull bats. Meck surrendered 14 runs off 13 hits and four walks in four innings of work.
The bats continued to catch fire. A Pete Grasso grand slam in the top of the third pushed the Salisbury lead to 12. A day to remember for the senior second baseman, Grasso had a season-high seven RBI.
Wells started on the mound for SU. The senior transfer from UNC-Charlotte cruised through the first six innings on the mound and allowed only two hits.
Wells ran into trouble in the seventh inning and surrendered six runs. The right-hander finished his day after surrendering six runs off six hits and three walks while striking out three off 111 pitches.
“I started out strong but really tried to use our defense,” Wells said. “That’s what we’ve been doing well with all this year.”
The Wolverines (19-14, 11-10 CAC) had a rally of their own, scoring 10 runs over the final three innings. But junior right-hander Connor Reeves slammed the door in the ninth to send Salisbury to its sixth straight CAC Championship Game appearance.
With the win the Sea Gulls will face the winner of the loser’s bracket on Saturday at 11 a.m. With no losses in the tournament, SU will have the luxury of needing to win just one more game.
If Salisbury were to lose during the 11 a.m. game, then a final game would be played at 2 p.m.
But after scoring 25 runs on Friday, the Sea Gulls may have the momentum heading into Saturday.
“We’re playing well, swinging well and we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Wells said. “Great team win today and I’m excited for tomorrow.”