By ZACH GILLELAND
The No. 16 Salisbury University baseball team is headed back to the big dance.
For many of the Sea Gull seniors, they can add back-to-back Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Champions to their resume. SU punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, blanking Mary Washington 21-0 on Saturday in the CAC title game.
“These seniors bust their tail day in and day out,” SU head coach Troy Brohawn said. “To see them right now—it’s a great feeling as a coach.”
Salisbury (30-8, 21-1 CAC) put up 21 runs on the Eagles’ pitching staff to cap off an incredible run that saw the offense put up 82 runs in a four-game stretch.
But even with the dominant run, winning the conference was just the start.
“Winning the conference—we got our goal,” senior pitcher Pete Grasso said. “We’re not finished, so we’re going to focus on the [NCAA Tournament] regional and take it one step at a time. It’s a good feeling but we know we’re not done.”
After a 2-4 start at the beginning of the season, the Sea Gulls have won 28 of their last 32 games. For senior catcher Tom LaBriola, the conference title added another accolade to the captain’s SU athletic career.
“Just playing with these guys has been awesome and it’s been an awesome four years,” senior catcher Tom LaBriola said. “Last game on this field—it means a lot.”
— Sach (@_zachariahg) April 22, 2017
Saturday’s game saw the final game at the SU Baseball Field. The Sea Gulls will move to a brand new facility starting next season. It will be constructed in the current lot that holds the intramural fields.
A story throughout the tournament, the offense continued to roll, scoring 21 runs off 17 hits. The Salisbury lineup contributed top to bottom with eight of the nine starters recording a hit and eight different Sea Gulls drove in a run.
Grasso took the mound for SU after facing Mary Washington on Tuesday. The Eagle offense had no answer at the plate, producing only six hits.
The right-hander delivered eight shutout innings, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out nine batters off of 107 pitches.
Grasso lowered his ERA to a CAC-best 1.34. The pitching staff that struggled early in the season has seemed to hit its stride.
“I’ll take my three starters over anybody in the country,” coach Brohawn said. “Win, lose or draw, I’ll take them. They go out and compete, which is a huge thing for me.”
The senior produced at the plate as well, going 4-for-7 with a solo blast in the ninth inning. 773 days after he hit his first home run at SU Baseball Field, Grasso trotted around the bases for the Stadium’s final-round tripper.
“We didn’t want to stop scoring runs,” Grasso said. “We wanted to keep tacking them on and keep our same approach.”
— Salisbury Athletics (@suseagulls) April 22, 2017
The Sea Gulls batted around three times in the game and scored in six different innings, including an eight spot in the first. The offense has now scored 20 or more runs in four of its last five games.
Freshman center fielder Justin Meekins led the team with four runs scored, finishing the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Jack Barry connected on SU’s other home run of the game, a two-run shot to left for his CAC-leading twelfth of the season.
With the CAC Tournament in the rearview mirror, Salisbury will play four non-conference games before starting the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re just going to continue to do what we are doing well,” LaBriola said. “We’ll just take everything, look forward and keep working hard.”