MBK: Sea Gulls secure third-straight NCAA Tourney bid for first time in program history

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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SU men’s basketball head coach Andrew Sachs looks on against York (Pa.) in the CAC Semifinals. Amy Wojtowicz photo

After a heartbreaking 63-62 loss in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament vs. Christopher Newport on Saturday, the Salisbury men’s basketball teams’ final hopes to make the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament were in the hands of the selection committee to provide the Sea Gulls with one of only 21 at-large bid spots.

Monday afternoon, the players’ hopes were answered with a bid into the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The bid is the third-straight for Salisbury. The stretch is a program record for consecutive NCAA-appearances.

“To go to three-straight tournaments, especially for these seniors, I think is great. Now we have to start making some dents and we’ll have a good test in the first round against Endicott,” SU head coach Andrew Sachs said, leading the team the last two seasons.

Salisbury’s initial mission changed to them simply trying to get into the tournament. Now, the Sea Gulls must gear up for a trip north in order to continue their strong season. One positive is that senior guard Justin Witmer returned from a recent ankle injury and is back healthy with the team.

“It was hard to sit there while I was injured. I wanted to do everything I could to help the team,” Witmer said. “But just being back is great. I’m thankful to have this opportunity.”

Salisbury will hit the road to start off the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. The team will travel just under three hours north to Neumann University (Aston, Pa.) in order to play their first-round opponent Endicott College.

Endicott (22-6, 15-3 CCC), also known as the Gulls, come into the tournament as another at-large selection after falling 67-64 at Nichols in their conference championship. Most notable on their resume is a win over Middlebury College, champions of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), early on to start the season.

“I know they’ll be well prepared. There aren’t any bad teams in the tournament now. You’re with the best of the best and we have to take it one game at a time,” coach Sachs said.

If Salisbury is able to get by Endicott into the second round, they would see either the host-school and Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) champions, Neumann University (25-2) or Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champions Nichols (23-5).

For the Sea Gulls, the mission becomes to improve on the basketball court ahead of their trip. Closing in the final minutes of games has become an issue for Salisbury. Christopher Newport came back from a nine-point deficit in the second half to win on senior center Tim Daly’s jumper with 1.2 seconds left.

The NCAA Tournament appearance is also a chance for Salisbury to continue with their senior trio of Witmer and forwards Gordon Jeter and Wyatt Smith. The three bring necessary veteran experience to the squad after the Sea Gulls lost three of their last four.

“It’s another opportunity to avenge our losses from the last tournament. To just prove we are one of the top teams in the country and that we are capable of doing something special this year,” Smith said.

“After the loss on Saturday, there weren’t a lot of dry eyes in the locker room because we thought it may be the end,” coach Sachs said. “Again, what [Witmer, Smith, and senior forward Gordon Jeter] have done to help the program to the next level is a testament to their work ethic.”

Around the CAC, Christopher Newport (25-2) made the tournament via their automatic bid as CAC champions. However, the Captains will play outside Philadelphia just like the Sea Gulls.

Because the Christopher Newport women’s basketball team also won the CAC, they will host games inside the Freeman Center this weekend. This scenario pushes the men’s team out on the road, travelling about six hours north to play at Swarthmore (22-5).

The Captains and the Sea Gulls are on opposite sides of the 64-team field, though, so the two rivals would not meet until the National Championship game, hypothetically.

The Sea Gulls will face the Endicott Gulls on Friday evening for their first-round match-up. The time is to be announced. If Salisbury wins, they would face either Neumann or Nichols on Saturday in Aston, Pa. Stay tuned to the Flyer for continuing coverage of Salisbury’s NCAA Tournament run and updates on their first match-up.

“I’m just happy to have practice one more day and happy to play one more game Friday,” Witmer said.

The final chapter of Sea Gull bracketology

 

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

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SU senior forward Gordon Jeter looks for the open pass vs. York (Pa.). Chris Mackowiak photo

A heart-wrenching loss welcomes the Salisbury men’s basketball team into Selection Monday for a second-straight year. On Saturday, the Sea Gulls made the three-hour journey to Newport News, Va. to face their rivals for a third time this season.

The 2017 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) was fitting of the rivalry once again. Senior center Tim Daly nailed a jumper just inside the arc with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to give CNU the 63-62 lead. A quarterback pass down the court from SU freshman center Nick Gittings could not find a recipient and the Sea Gulls looked on as the Captains celebrated a second-straight CAC title.

Since CNU joined the CAC from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) in the 2013-14 season, Salisbury is 5-7 against the Captains, including 1-5 over the last two seasons. Five of those last six contests between the two teams finished with a margin of two points or lower, including two overtime games.

While Salisbury displayed a strong effort on Saturday, it does not change the fact that the Sea Gulls now have an uncertain future come Monday. Christopher Newport claims the CAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Now, Salisbury must hope that their resume is enough this season to get over the hump for an at-large bid.

As we head into Selection Monday, below I have listed the current winners of automatic bids (conference champions), the conference championships still to be played and current potential at-large bids according to D3hoops.com. The overall layout of the NCAA Tournament is as follows: 64 teams that include 43 conference champions and 21 at-large bids.

Automatic Bids through the current time:

AMCC: Medaille (21-6)

American Southwest Conf.: Hardin-Simmons (22-6)

Capital Athletic Conf.: Christopher Newport (25-2)

Centennial Conf.: Swarthmore (22-5)

CUNYAC: College of Staten Island (21-6)

CCIW: North Central (Ill.) (17-10)

CSAC: Neumann (24-2)

Commonwealth Conf.: Lycoming (23-4)

Commonwealth Coast Conf.: Nichols (23-5)

Empire 8: St. John Fisher (22-5)

Freedom Conf.: Misericordia (20-7)

GNAC: Albertus Magnus (23-4)

Heartland: Hanover (22-3)

IIAC: Wartburg (19-9)

Landmark Conf.: Scranton (21-6)

Liberty League: Union (16-10)

Little East Conf.: Eastern Connecticut (20-8)

MSCAC: Salem State (17-10)

MIAA: Calvin (17-10)

Midwest Conf.: Ripon (20-5)

MIAC: Bethel (21-6)

NACC: Benedictine (23-4)

NEAC: Morrisville State (22-6)

NECC: Becker (19-8)

NESCAC: Middlebury (24-3)

NEWMAC: M.I.T. (21-6)

NJAC: Ramapo (25-2)

North Atlantic Conf.: Husson (21-6)

NCAC: Wooster (21-7)

Northwest Conf.: Whitman (27-0)

OAC: Marietta (24-4)

ODAC: Guilford (23-5)

PAC: Thomas More (22-6)

SAA: Rhodes (17-10)

Skyline Conf.: Farmingdale State (20-7)

SCAC: Texas Lutheran (19-9)

SCIAC: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (22-4)

SLIAC: Westminster (Mo.) (19-8)

SUNYAC: Oswego State (21-6)

UAA: Washington Univ. (20-5)

UMAC: Northwestern (Minn.) (20-7)

USA South: LaGrange (18-10)

WIAC: UW-River Falls (24-3)

Potential at-large Bids (according to D3hoops.com; high chances in italics):

Amherst (NESCAC 17-7)

Augustana (CCIW 19-7)

Babson (25-2)

Brockport (SUNYAC 19-7)

Cabrini (CSAC 19-7)

Cal Lutheran (SCIAC 20-6)

Denison (22-5)

Emory (UAA 18-7)

Hope (MIAA 21-6)

John Carroll (OAC 17-8)

LeTourneau (ASC 22-6)

Loras (IIAC 18-8)

Mount St. Joseph (Heartland 20-7)

New Jersey City (NJAC 21-7)

Ohio Wesleyan (NCAC 21-7)

Rochester (UAA 21-4)

Salisbury (CAC 20-7)

Susquehanna (Landmark 21-5)

Skidmore (Liberty 19-7)

St. Lawrence (Liberty 20-6)

St. Norbert (Midwest 19-5)

St. Thomas (MIAC 19-7)

Tufts (NESCAC 20-6)

Whitworth (Northwest 23-4)

Williams (NESCAC 19-8)

UW-Whitewater (WIAC 21-6)

The Salisbury men’s basketball team makes it into the potential field of at-large bids. What is helping the Sea Gulls at the moment is their fantastic strength of schedule and non-conference spread. Salisbury went 5-2 in the non-conference, but it is the teams they scheduled that makes the difference.

The two non-conference losses for the Gulls came at the Hoopsville Classic in Las Vegas back in the holiday season. The two teams that defeated Salisbury were Ramapo College (NJAC champions) and Hardin-Simmons (ASC champions). While these were already considered “good” losses, now those losses improve with the title of “conference champions” next to both of these squads.

Most notable among Salisbury’s non-conference wins is the College of Staten Island (CUNYAC champions) who made it into the NCAA Tournament field. Salisbury’s win over Johns Hopkins (Centennial) was also a solid resume addition, but the Blue Jays faced many losses down the stretch and exited their conference tournament early so they will not be in the field of 64.

Wins over Goucher, Washington College, and Virginia Wesleyan (No.16 at the time) also highlight Salisbury’s non-conference. Of course, in-conference CNU bolsters the Salisbury resume.

Three games against the Captains boosts both strength of schedule and resume for the Gulls. Unlike last season, one of the match-ups was even a win for Salisbury, which helps the Sea Gulls even more.

Potentially aiding the Gulls the most at this point is their double-overtime win against York (Pa.) in the CAC Semifinals. York has slowly trended upward in its national reputation. While the Spartans will not be a tournament team, their recent success helps to minimize Salisbury’s early-season road loss in Pennsylvania.

Last week’s regional rankings brought Salisbury down to the sixth spot after going 0-2 in the final week of the regular season. Four of the five teams above Salisbury in the rankings won their conference tournament. Therefore, Susquehanna is the only at-large candidate above Salisbury, which bodes well for the Gulls. If more upsets had occurred in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, then trouble could have occurred for Salisbury.

What makes college basketball so special is exactly what happened to the Gulls. If they ended up winning either against St. Mary’s (Md.) or Frostburg St., Sea Gull nation would not be quaking right now because SU would be a lock.

Time will tell what will happen to Salisbury, but for now here is my personal take.

I think credit must be given to SU head coach Andrew Sachs in scheduling such a tough lineup this season. That may prove to be the difference this time around. I believe the strength of schedule and non-conference record will be enough to overshadow Salisbury falling in three of their last four games. While the Sea Gulls will have to hit the road later this week, they will at least be in the tournament as one of the final teams. It should be the first time in program history that Salisbury has made it to the “big dance” in three-straight seasons.

UPDATE: Salisbury was selected as the tenth at-large bid of the 21 available during the D3hoops.com mock selection show. This gives the Sea Gulls plenty of room headed into tomorrow.

Stay tuned for updates as they come in. The Flyer will have Selection Monday coverage tomorrow. The NCAA Selection Show occurs at 12:30pm on Monday online at NCAA.com.

The best source for the moment is D3hoops.com, which features coverage of all 43 conference tournaments across the nation here.

MLAX: No. 1 Salisbury wins OT thriller over No. 6 Gettysburg 10-9

By DREW KESSLER

Staff Writer

@drewkessler1

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SU junior offensive middie Garrett Reynolds readies himself to drive toward the Gettysburg defense. Drew Kessler photo

Salisbury had their biggest test of the season so far Saturday afternoon when sixth-ranked Gettysburg College (2-1) came to play the top-ranked Sea Gulls (4-0). The Bullets came into Sea Gull Stadium looking for revenge after falling to Salisbury two times last season: 10-7 in the 2016 regular season, and 14-6 in the NCAA Tournament Semifinals.

The Sea Gulls came out firing, starting the game on a 2-0 run with goals by freshman attacker Josh Melton and sophomore middie Corey Gwin within the first six minutes of the game. Gwin propelled the Salisbury offense by scoring two of the first three goals in the game for the Sea Gulls.

“Felt like the first time all season the team was running on all cylinders to start off a game,” Gwin said.

Gettysburg overcame the slow start by ending the first quarter by scoring the last two goals to tie the game.

Then, in the second quarter, Salisbury’s offense exploded with the first three goals in the quarter, gaining a 5-2 advantage.

The three-goal lead proved to be the largest of the game. But, throughout the whole game, Gettysburg kept fighting back and ended the first half nicely. Despite trending offenses, the Bullets went into the breakdown only 5-4.

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SU senior attacker Carson Kalama (33) looks to pass to an open SU freshman attacker Josh Melton (16) vs. Gettysburg. Hannah Wichrowski photo

Both teams traded goals in the third quarter. Then, with 40 seconds left to go, Gettysburg deflected a Salisbury shot attempt, leaving an open opportunity. Salisbury leading-scorer and senior attacker Carson Kalama (11 goals) picked up the deflection and scored his first goal of the game to give the Gulls the lead and momentum headed into the final quarter.

For the Bullets, two players stepped up in the key situations. Senior attacker Sean Fumai led the charge with three goals, including two in the fourth quarter. Bullets junior goalkeeper Tim Brady stood tall in the cage with 14 saves in the game.

“He kept us in the game; when Salisbury got up 5-2 when they had a man up, he had a huge save and our team came up to score two goals to make it 5-4, and when it was tied later in the game, he had a couple huge saves,” Gettysburg head coach Hank Janczyk said.

“Their goalie [Brady] just came on fire in the fourth quarter. He had 11 saves in the second half, as we had four fast breaks in a row and didn’t score,” SU head coach Jim Berkman said.

With less than four minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, Salisbury senior middie Garrett Reynolds scored to put Salisbury up 9-8. Gettysburg wasted no time to respond as they came right back down to allow senior attacker Reed Barbe to tie up the game once again with 3:01 left.

Both defenses stepped up in the final three minutes of play, shutting down the opposing offense. The big play for the SU defense came from defensive middie Troy Miller when he stripped the ball from Gettysburg with a minute left, sending the game to overtime.

The overtime period ended quickly, as Salisbury won the face-off and then coach Berkman called a timeout. After the timeout, SU offensive middie Brendan Bromwell scored the winning goal to raise the Sea Gulls’ record to 4-0 this season. A margin of two goals or less has decided three of Salisbury’s four games so far.

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The entire Salisbury men’s lacrosse team piles around SU senior offensive middie Brendan Bromwell after his game-winning goal in overtime. Hannah Wichrowski photo

“We have been in close games all year, not to our liking; definitely would want to put more points on the board, and keep practicing to keep improving throughout the year,” Bromwell said.

“This game was a big step for home playoffs, even if it was a February game. Whenever playing a good team, the magic number is 10 for giving up goals. If they don’t get 10, they probably are not going to beat us,” coach Berkman said.

Gettysburg suffered their first loss of the season after starting  with wins over Messiah and Goucher. Both Salisbury and Gettysburg face top-15 match-ups next week. The Bullets’ next game will be on Saturday when they host No.10 Stevenson. For Salisbury, their undefeated record will be put to the test against No.13 Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday, Mar. 5.

“I think these young guys, as we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team, really took a step up today, playing great competition like Salisbury on the road,” Gettysburg coach Janczyk said.

Baseball: Sea Gulls score five in ninth to walk-off in second game of doubleheader

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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A beautiful day awaits the double header between Salisbury and the Oswego State Lakers. Hannah Wichrowski photo

It was the bottom of the ninth.

A runner on second and nobody out, Oswego St. (1-1) turns to its ace on the mound.

With Salisbury (3-4) down a run, sophomore first baseman Jay Perry digs into the batter’s box. The 1-1 pitch comes to the plate.

Perry connects and hits a deep drive to right. The outfielder chases but runs out of room and the ball sails over the wall. After a four-game skid, the Sea Gulls are back in the win column.

Salisbury erased a four-run deficit to stun the Lakers 13-12 in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“This is huge,” Perry said. “To come out here and get a win on that ending and get back on track is really big.”

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SU sophomore first baseman Jay Perry takes in an out at first base vs. Oswego St. Hannah Wichrowski photo

After being shut down 13-3 in the first game of the day, game two yielded better results for a Sea Gull team that was looking for something to go their way.

Being held to only three runs in the game prior, SU head coach Troy Brohawn made some changes to the lineup, moving senior right fielder Kevin Dean to the leadoff spot.

Dean led off the bottom of the first with a single and stole second on the ensuing at-bat. The senior then tagged up on a fly ball to right and a run batted in (RBI) groundout by Pete Grasso gave the Sea Gulls an early 1-0 lead.

Senior right hander Jeff Oster started the second game for Salisbury and cruised through his first three innings, surrendering his first hit with two away in the third.

Things started to unravel in the top of the fourth with Oswego St. senior third baseman Eric Hamilton leading off the inning with a double down the left field line. Junior left fielder John Barnes followed with a moon shot that cleared the trees in left-center that gave the Lakers their first lead of the game.

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SU senior catcher Tom LaBriola takes a swing at a pitch vs. Oswego State. Hannah Wichrowski photo

The Sea Gulls would respond in the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles by senior left fielder Kyle Canavan and Grasso, putting runners in scoring position. Sophomore third baseman Jack Barry then scorched a single to center field, scoring two.

After an error by Oswego St. junior shortstop Robert Donnelly put two runners on the corners, SU junior designated hitter Ryan Horseman hit a two-run double to left to give Salisbury a 5-2 edge.

The Lakers would answer right back. Two walks by Oster and an error loaded the bases for Hamilton. Hamilton, a first team All-SUNYAC selection a year ago, hit a grand slam, putting Oswego St. on top 6-5.

What looked to be a good pitch by Oster was an even better hit by Hamilton. The 0-2 pitch was well outside, but Hamilton reached across the plate and pushed the ball to right with the wind carrying it over the fence.

The back-and-forth action continued in the bottom of the fifth. After back-to-back singles by Grasso and senior catcher Tom Labriola put the Sea Gulls in business, a wild pitch from Lakers’ starter Brian Nolan scored Grasso to tie the game. Errors came back to haunt Oswego St., as a misplay by senior second baseman Zach Kollar scored Labriola for a 7-6 Salisbury lead.

Oster’s day ended in the seventh inning after giving up a leadoff walk. Although surrendering six earned runs, the senior right-hander only allowed four hits and struck out four.

“We struggled pitching in the first game, so I knew I had to set the tone on the mound,” Oster said. “I tried to mix it up. Oswego St. seemed to sit on the fastball, so I tried to get them on the off-speed more. Overall, I think it was a pretty good outing.”

Oster has been a bright spot for a pitching staff that has struggled. The starter has made it to the sixth inning in all three of his starts this season, a feat no other Salisbury pitcher has done.

“He’s a gamer and I can’t say enough great things about how he’s gone from last year to this year,” coach Brohawn said. “Every time he takes the hill, you know he’s going to give everything he’s got.”

Second baseman Grasso came on to pitch for the Gulls. An error hurt Salisbury as a run came in to score to tie the game again. A fielder’s choice off the bat of Lakers’ junior first baseman Kyle Dinges scored another run, giving Oswego St. an 8-7 lead.

Being down a run in the bottom of the eighth, junior shortstop Scott Ardoin led off with a double. With two runners on and two outs, an infield single by Canavan tied the game at eight. The Sea Gulls benefited from the AstroTurf infield as the ball sailed 20 feet in the air off a bounce, which allowed Canavan to reach first without a throw.

The fireworks continued into the ninth. After giving up their lead an inning prior, the Lakers responded with an RBI single from senior left fielder Myles Kutscher.

The weirdest play of the game came when, with two runners on, a Dinges bunt forced a play at the plate. SU’s Labriola caught the Oswego St. runners off guard and forced them into a rundown.

But, two throwing errors by the Sea Gulls proceeded to score all three runners, and the inside-the-park homerun gave the Lakers a 12-8 lead.

Down to its final three outs and facing a four-run deficit, Salisbury got off to a great start in the inning with a Labriola double, and back-to-back walks forced a bases loaded situation.

After a two-run single by Ardoin cut the lead to two, Oswego St. turned to Donnelly, an All-SUNYAC selection a year ago who led the team with a 2.07 earned run average (ERA). However, Donnelly threw a wild pitch to his very first batter, which scored junior Simon Palenchar and put Ardoin in scoring position.

The fans in attendance erupted when Perry took Donnelly deep on the next at-bat to give the Sea Gulls the win.

With an ugly win, the maroon and gold split the doubleheader against one of the nation’s top teams.

“Again, walks killed us and our defense is not where it should be,” coach Brohawn said. “The first game, we didn’t swing it very well, but the second game, we had some good at-bats.”

Next up for the Sea Gulls is a trip to Baltimore to face Johns Hopkins on Wednesday.

“A win is a win,” Brohawn said. “We just have to continue to get better.”

MBK: Salisbury outlasts York (Pa.) in 2OT to advance to CAC Championship

By: Brad Kelly

Staff Writer

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SU senior guard Justin Witmer gets off a three-pointer over York (Pa.) freshman guard Jared Wagner. Amy Wojtowicz photo

The No. 20 Salisbury men’s basketball team (20-6) won a thrilling double-overtime contest against the York (Pa.) Spartans (17-10) to advance to the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Championship. With March Madness lurking in the shadows, games at this point of the season are all the more important; this makes the Gulls’ win vital in helping their bid to make the Division III tournament.

The first half of action turned into a three-point shooting contest as the two teams combined to fire 30 shots from beyond the arc. Neither team found success from deep in the half. York went 3-14 and the Gulls shot 5-16 in the category, but the no-conscience shooting made for up-tempo action.

The Spartans jumped out to a 4-2 lead at the 19-minute mark of the first half, but Salisbury quickly took the lead on junior forward Chad Barcikowski’s three just two minutes later. The Gulls would not look back for the rest of the half as they controlled the inside game and out-muscled the Spartans on the glass, outrebounding them by eight boards.

The Gulls took a 31-28 lead into halftime led by senior guard Justin Witmer, sophomore forward Jack Ferguson and junior forward Barry Bratten having six points apiece. Junior guard Matt Scamuffo led York with eight points while freshman guard Jared Wagner chipped in with five.

While the teams played the first half mostly from the perimeter, the second half turned into an inside battle. The Spartans only attempted eight three’s in the half, moving their effort into attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line. York established their newfound approach early in the half, using a seven-point scoreless run to take the lead 35-31.

The Gulls came out sloppy in the early going of the second half, missing open looks and struggling with the Spartans’ half-court press. With momentum fully turning York’s way, Salisbury needed someone to step up and make a play. That play came from senior forward Wyatt Smith, who brought the loud Maggs Physical Activities Center crowd to its feet with a transition dunk and foul to cut the deficit to only one.

Both teams traded baskets and free throw opportunities the rest of the half, as neither team could open more than a three-point lead. The Gulls left eight points at the charity in the second half going 13 of 22 from the line, while the Spartans were nearly immaculate making 11 of 12.

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SU head coach Andrew Sachs looks on in disbelief during Salisbury’s 86-80 double-overtime victory vs. York. Amy Wojtowicz photo

The flow of the Spartan offense in the second half went through junior forward Blayde Reich who led the team with 14 points in the half. The Gulls had a two-point advantage with 25 seconds left, but like the theme of the half, Reich took the ball hard inside drawing the foul and tying the game at 67. With five seconds left in the game, Smith got a shot off before the buzzer, but the ball rimmed out, sending the game into the first overtime.

After Smith put the Gulls up early in overtime with a layup, the Spartans controlled most of the period. York once again got the ball inside and went to the free-throw line, jumping out to a lead with 22 seconds left. But, once again the Gulls looked to an upperclassman when it mattered most, as Barcikowski made a brilliant one-on-one defensive play forcing a turnover. This led to Salisbury free throws, where Ferguson continued his strong play off the bench, hitting both free throws to tie the game. The Gulls once again got a shot off right before the buzzer, but Barcikowski’s three-point look would not fall.

In the first overtime, it was Salisbury that jumped out to an early lead only to trail for most of the period, but in the second period it was the Spartans who took the lead from the start. The two teams once again traded baskets as Spartans’ sophomore guard Jason Bady continually drove the ball inside with success. However, the Gulls’ senior forward Gordon Jeter followed suit, taking the reins of the Gulls’ offense.

After two Barcikowski free throws at the two-minute mark, the Gulls took the lead and did not look back. Led by Jeter’s nine-point performance in the period, the Gulls would secure the win 86-80.

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SU senior forward Wyatt Smith (32) looks for an open SU junior forward Chad Barcikowski (20). Amy Wojtowicz photo

Jeter led the team with 17 points and 11 rebounds, followed by 16 points from both Smith and Witmer and 13 points off the bench from Ferguson. Reich led York with his 21 points and 10 rebounds. Other Spartans made their marks with 19 points off the bench from Bady, 17 points from Wagner, and 16 points from junior guard Matt Scamuffo.

The Gulls will face a familiar foe in the CAC championship game, matching up against the Christopher Newport Captains (24-2) for the third straight year. Salisbury split the regular season’s series against the Captains this season, with each home team prevailing. The championship will be played on Feb. 25 at Christopher Newport.

MLAX Preview: Sea Gulls host Gettysburg in first top-10 matchup of Division III season

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

What: No. 1 Salisbury men’s lacrosse hosts No. 6 Gettysburg College

Where: Sea Gull Stadium

When: Saturday at 1 p.m.

How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

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SU junior defensive middie Troy Miller (19) alongside defenders Kyle Tucker (25) and Will Nowesnick (11) prevent Montclair State from attacking the cage. Amy Wojtowicz photo

Four score and seven years ago, the first-ranked Salisbury University men’s lacrosse team defeated Gettysburg 14-6 to advance to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championship game. Falling to the maroon and gold twice last season, the sixth-ranked Bullets return to Sea Gull Stadium in a match-up that should be a tight one.

Salisbury: With 11 National Championships and 28 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances on their resume, expectations for the Sea Gulls are always high. Even with a 3-0 record to start the season, Salisbury has had its fair share of struggles. With one of the top programs in the nation in Gettysburg coming to town, the Sea Gulls won’t have much room for error.

Offense: Salisbury has not been able to replicate the success of its 21-2 season-opening win against Methodist. Facing tougher opponents in Lynchburg and Montclair St., the Sea Gulls have been limited to just nine goals apiece. The Salisbury attack has seen a dip in shooting percentage, shooting 27 percent compared to 37 percent from a season ago. Senior attacker Carson Kalama leads the offense with nine goals and is tied for second in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). Adding senior attacker Nathan Blondino and freshman newcomer Josh Melton into the mix, the Sea Gulls have the capability to put the ball in the back of the net.

Defense: Six out of the 17 goals scored against Salisbury this season have come in the fourth quarter. While opponents have found some success late, it’s been the defense that has helped the Sea Gulls in key situations. Senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann leads the CAC in save percentage, and Salisbury has allowed the fewest goals-per-game in the conference. Facing another strong opponent in Gettysburg, the Sea Gull defense will be tested once again.

At the ‘X’: A good offense starts at the ‘X.’ One of the reasons for Salisbury’s success throughout the years has been its ability to control face-offs. Senior midfielder Duncan Campbell has won on almost 70 percent of his face-off attempts this season, allowing the Sea Gulls more opportunities to control the ball in the offensive zone.

Player to Watch: Senior goalkeeper Colin Reymann

Facing a nationally ranked opponent this week, the schedule keeps getting tougher for Salisbury. One of the top goalkeeper’s in the country, Reymann keeps the ball out of the net which has contributed to the Sea Gulls’ dominance throughout the years. The senior faces a tough task ahead of him Saturday, and Salisbury will need a strong performance from him in the cage.

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SU senior face-off specialist Duncan Campbell (3) wins the face-off against Montclair State. Amy Wojtowicz photo

Gettysburg: The Bullets have had an impressive start to the season, which includes a dominate 22-5 win over Goucher on Wednesday. A program looking to build off a Final Four appearance a season ago, Gettysburg has showcased strong offensive and defensive play. After falling to Salisbury twice last season, the Bullets are looking for revenge.

Offense: After dumping 22 on Goucher Wednesday night, Gettysburg will look to continue to put up points against what could be its toughest opponent of the season in Salisbury. Sophomore attacker Tommy Heller led the Bullets with five goals in the win, and teammate Sean Fumai has attributed eight goals on the season. A swarming attack that can score early and often, Gettysburg has put up 90 shots in just two games.

Defense: As flashy as the offense has been in their first two games, the Bullets defense has been equally tough on opponents. Opposing teams have found little success, and junior goalkeeper Tim Brady has only been forced to make 12 saves. The defense has only allowed nine goals in its first two games and dating back to last season only three opponents have managed to score in double figures with two being from Salisbury.

At the ‘X’: With two teams that can score a lot of goals, an interesting battle will be at the ‘X’. Like the Sea Gulls, Gettysburg has been able to hold the advantage at the ‘X’. The Bullets have overwhelmed opponents on face-offs, winning 69 percent of the time. Whoever can win the face-off battle may have the upper hand Saturday.

Player to Watch: Senior attacker Sean Fumai

The team’s leading goal scorer on a crowded statistics sheet, Fumai has scored eight goals on 12 shot attempts this season. Coming off a hat trick in the win against Goucher, the senior leads the Gettysburg attack to hostile territory Saturday. Facing one of the top goalkeepers in the nation in Colin Reymann, Gettysburg’s ability to score may be on the shoulders of its captain.

MBK Preview: Salisbury and York (Pa.) open a third chapter in CAC Semifinals

By CHRIS MACKOWIAK

Sports Editor

@cmackowiakSGSN

What: No. 20 Salisbury men’s basketball hosts York College (Pa.)

Where: Maggs Physical Activities Center

When: Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7pm

How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

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SU senior forward Gordon Jeter looks for the open man vs. York in their matchup earlier this month. Chris Mackowiak photo

With a third place Mid-Atlantic regional ranking, the Sea Gulls’ men’s basketball team was flying high towards the end of the regular season and into the 2017 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Playoffs. Now, one week later, Salisbury (19-6, 14-4 CAC) finds itself in a much different scenario. Losers in their last two contests, the Sea Gulls are now on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament.

While it is up for debate whether they will make it further into the postseason, Salisbury does control one thing: the CAC Tournament. A 2017 Championship would mean an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and no speculations on their hopes beyond the next few days.

The obstacle in their way is the familiar York College Spartans squad (17-9, 11-7 CAC) that split both regular season contests with the Gulls. It is a matchup of the CAC second-seeded Gulls and the third-seeded Spartans as February warms into March Madness on Thursday night.

2016-17 Meetings: An average of 4.5 points has separated the Gulls and the Spartans in their two games this season. In January, Salisbury took their second straight loss to York in a 78-74 affair in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, Salisbury avenged their previous defeat with a 77-72 home victory that featured a brief Spartan comeback in the late stages of the game.

Salisbury: The Sea Gulls come off one of their least productive weeks this season. The team went 0-2 on the road with come-from-behind losses at both St. Mary’s (Md.) and Frostburg St. Most notably apparent was the defensive drop off in both contests in the second half. Salisbury gave up 27.5 scoring defense in the first half, but that same number raised to 49.5 in the second half.

SU Offense: The Salisbury offense has increased production from a season ago. The Sea Gulls have scored at or above their average of 73.6 points per game (PPG) in their last six games. In recent games, Salisbury has found struggles spreading out the scoring, relying on a few players to carry the load. SU is in need of a consistent fourth-string scorer to emerge, which they may just get back in a healthy Justin Witmer.

SU Defense: The key mission for Salisbury on the defensive end is to guard the corners and track well. York’s successes against the Gulls depend on outside shooting which Salisbury has failed to defend in the two previous match-ups this season. While Salisbury sports one of the top three-point defenses in the nation, allowing 28.3 percent per game, York was the complete opposite in their two match-ups, shooting 38.9 percent against the Gulls this season.

This game is also a second chance for the Gulls to redeem the defensive prowess that they are known for under head coach Andrew Sachs. Salisbury finished in the top-five of total scoring defense in the entire country a season ago. After going 0-2 last week in two come-from-behind wins, Salisbury dropped to sub-20 in the nation in the category.

SU Players to Watch: Salisbury’s senior trio.

Tense moments call for clutch players. This moment is a prime opportunity for Salisbury’s three seniors. Guard Justin Witmer alongside forwards Gordon Jeter and Wyatt Smith return to the spotlight of the CAC Tournament once again.

Smith is coming off one of his top performances of the season, tallying 28 points and nine rebounds against Frostburg St. Improvements have come in Jeter’s game over the last week, averaging three more points per game and just over three more rebounds per game.

The last time Witmer took the floor for the Gulls was when he drained career point number 1,000 against York in their last meeting.  After recently dealing with a high-ankle sprain, Thursday will be the first game action for Witmer after healing. Despite not being 100 percent, the senior brings his most important “x-factor”—leadership.

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SU head coach Andrew Sachs calls out an offensive play call in Salisbury’s 77-72 win over York earlier this season. Chris Mackowiak photo

York (Pa.): After their 102-91 CAC first round win over Wesley College, the Spartans take their second road trip in the last three weeks to Salisbury, Md. In their two games against the Sea Gulls this season, York was notorious for stretching out the Salisbury defense to the point that the Spartans could create open pockets. After suffering a key injury in their front court early in the season, York runs a four-guard spread that is ideal for shooters to find open looks.

York Offense: The Spartans continue to score from beyond the arc this season. The team averages 33.8 percent from deep for the course of the season, but this percentage increases to 38.9 against Salisbury. In each of this season’s two games, a Spartan has knocked down at least six three’s against the Gulls. In the first game, it was senior guard Brad Wesner (6/11 for 18 points). In the second, it was junior guard Matt Scamuffo.

York Defense: The Spartans have produced enough on the offensive end that they have not needed to worry about the defensive side. While York has electrified from beyond the arc against Salisbury, the Gulls have still found ways to put consistent offensive numbers.

A key for York will be to force Salisbury’s hand in the turnover department. The Spartans scored 20 points off 14 Salisbury turnovers in their first meeting this season. York averages 9.1 steals per game to force over 17 turnovers per game, leading the conference.

York Player to Watch: junior guard Matt Scamuffo.

These past two seasons, Scamuffo is the kryptonite for Salisbury. The elusive six-foot-one junior is a determined shooter that has racked up his fair share of points through his first three seasons, scoring over 1,000 points in his career. Averaging 16 points per game, Scamuffo is the key to the engine that drives York.

In their last meeting earlier in February, the native of Chalfont, Pa. found his touch beyond the arc, hitting nine of 17 three-pointers for a total of 35 points. It was just last season while Salisbury was upset on the road at York that Scamuffo drained six of ten three-pointers for 24 points.

BB Preview: SU looks to rebound from three-game skid against Oswego St. this weekend

By ZACH GILLELAND

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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SU starting pitcher Jeff Oster throws a pitch against Cortland State. Amy Wojtowicz photo

What: No. 24 Salisbury baseball hosts No. 12 Oswego St.

Where: SU Baseball Field

When: 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (30 minutes after Game One conclusion)

How to Watch: Sea Gull Sports Network

After a 2-0 record to start the season, the Salisbury University baseball team finds themselves on a three-game skid, capped off by a weekend sweep at the hands of No. 1 Cortland St. The road does not get any easier for the Sea Gulls, as they face a twelfth-ranked Oswego St. team that finished 35-11 a season ago.

Last Meeting: The Lakers defeated the Sea Gulls 15-6 in a game that saw 31 combined hits. Oswego St. senior third baseman Eric Hamilton drove in six runs, and Salisbury starting pitcher Pete Grasso was knocked out of the game in the third inning after giving up five runs off seven hits.

Salisbury: The stretch of tough opponents continues for the Sea Gulls as they again face one of the nation’s strongest teams. Sunday saw Salisbury’s biggest defeat of the season with a five-run loss to Cortland St. Saturday yields an opportunity for the maroon and gold to turn things around.

Pitching: Walks and defense have been the source of Salisbury’s woes on the mound. The Sea Gulls’ pitching staff has surrendered 33 walks in the team’s first five games and their 7.20 ERA is second worst in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC). Locating the strike zone will be key for the pitching staff as the Lakers’ offense returns four All-Conference players. If Salisbury has a difficult time throwing strikes, then Saturday could be a long day for the Gulls.

Offense: Salisbury’s ability to hit the ball is the key to most of their success this season. The Sea Gulls scored 10 or more runs in three out of five games to start the season. University of Maryland transfer Justin Meekins leads the maroon and gold with a .471 batting average and sophomore infielders Jack Barry and Jay Perry have contributed two home runs each. The Sea Gulls’ offense was limited to only two runs in Sunday’s loss to Cortland St., so the ball may be ready to fly out of the park come Saturday.

Salisbury Player to Watch: Senior Pete Grasso

A dual threat for Salisbury, Grasso has been called on to hit and pitch for the Sea Gulls. One of the team’s most consistent hitters throughout the years, the senior infielder has struggled at the plate early on, holding a .238 batting average. On the mound, the right-hander had a promising outing against No.1 Cortland State, throwing four innings of shutout ball in relief. Whether he is on the rubber or at the dish, the Sea Gulls will rely heavily on Grasso.

Oswego St.: The Lakers head south to begin their season after being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Tufts. One of the more balanced teams in the country, Oswego St. fields a strong pitching staff and offense. With 11 seniors on the roster and plenty of veteran talent, the team is poised for another big season.

Pitching: To combat the Sea Gulls’ offensive firepower, the Lakers will turn to a pitching staff that was third in all of Division III with a 2.90 ERA and threw five shutouts. Anchoring the staff is second-team all-SUNYAC right-hander Robert Donnelly, who led the way with a 2.07 ERA and pitched three complete games. A matchup between one of Division III’s best offenses in Salisbury and pitching staffs in Oswego St., it will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand.

Offense: Like their pitching staff, the Lakers’ offensive members are also strong at the plate. With four All-SUNYAC players in its lineup, Oswego St. can put up runs at a premium. Hamilton led the team last season in all Triple Crown categories, posting a .399 batting average with 13 homeruns and 55 RBIs. Adding All-SUNYAC teammates Zach Kollar, Myles Kutscher and Mike Dellicari into the mix, Salisbury’s pitching staff may have a difficult time cooling the bats of the Lakers.

Oswego St. Player to Watch: Senior third baseman Eric Hamilton

Tied for seventh in Division III in home runs, Hamilton is a strong presence in the middle of the order. A strong contact hitter, the third baseman struck out just 12 times in 173 at-bats a season ago. With an offense that exceeds in getting on base, Hamilton will be called upon to drive in runs for Oswego St.

Baseball: Sea Gull bats cool off as Salisbury falls to Cortland State

By Zach Gilleland

Staff Writer

@_zachariahg

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SU freshman center fielder Justin Meekins swings at a pitch in Saturday’s contest vs. Cortland St. Amy Wojtowicz photo

Less than 24 hours after putting up 12 runs in a close loss, the Salisbury University baseball team (2-3) had a difficult time getting around the Cortland State pitching staff, falling 7-2 Sunday.

Facing the top-ranked team in the country in the Red Dragons (2-0), Sunday’s match-up proved to be quite a contrast to the 15-12 slugfest a day prior as pitching took the upper hand.

A duel between both starters early on, neither team yielded a hit in the first three innings. Sea Gull junior right-hander Brad Keith struggled with his command throughout the day, but was able to get out of tough situations.

After a scoreless three innings, the fortunes fell to Cortland St. in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded and two outs, junior catcher Jack Massa hit a blooper to center that fell just before Salisbury freshman center fielder Justin Meekins could make a play on it. The two-run single gave the Red Dragons the early edge.

Cortland St. extended their lead in the fifth inning after a walk and a bunt single brought senior third baseman Steven Figueroa to the plate. Figueroa took a deep drive to right field, one-hopping the wall for a two-run triple that gave the Red Dragons a 4-0 lead.

On the very next at-bat, Cortland St. junior designated hitter Matt Michalski singled up the middle to score Figueroa, ending the day for the Sea Gull right-hander.

Keith finished the day giving up just four hits, but surrendered six runs off six walks in four innings of work.

“I started to over-throw; my pitch count started to get up and I wasn’t finishing the pitches the way I was in the earlier three innings,” Keith said. “I felt really good early on as far as my breaking-balls and slider, which got me ahead in a lot of counts and allowed me to be more successful.”

“In those last innings I started to get behind, which put them in a position of power and a better situation for them to be successful, so they started to hit some of the pitches I didn’t want them to hit.”

It took three Salisbury pitchers to escape the fifth inning. After a two-run double by Massa gave the Red Dragons a 7-0 cushion, a double play orchestrated by a diving Pete Grasso ended the inning.

The bottom-half of the fifth inning proved to be the most successful for a Salisbury offense that struggled to beat Cortland St. junior left-hander Patrick Merryweather.

SU sophomore third baseman Jack Barry led off with a line drive to left, the Sea Gulls’ first hit of the day. Salisbury got its first run when Meekins was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Senior catcher Tom LaBriola followed suit with a bases-loaded walk to cut the deficit to five.

Cortland St. turned to its bullpen with sophomore left-hander Andrew Barnes striking out Grasso to end the Sea Gull rally.

Barnes worked three innings of relief, striking out seven and allowing only one hit. The lefty’s combination of a hard fastball and sharp breaking ball made it difficult for Salisbury to put runners on base.

“They just overpowered us on the mound,” Barry said. “We had some good at-bats but when we’re not putting the ball in play, that’s going to be the result.”

Walks have continued to be a problem for the Sea Gull pitching staff. In just five games, the team has given up 33 free passes to opposing batters.

“We just got out-pitched,” Salisbury head coach Troy Brohawn said. “Bottom line: [Cortland St.] came out and out-pitched us. I thought Brad [Keith] and Pete [Grasso] threw the ball well, but walks killed us and we can’t do that against a good program.”

A promising sign for the Sea Gulls was the pitching of Grasso. After surrendering six runs in three innings of work during the season-opening win against Gwynedd Mercy, Grasso pitched four innings of relief, allowing no runs and striking out six.

“He has to be that for us on the mound,” Brohawn said. “Hopefully, that’s a step in the right direction.”

Salisbury returns to action on Saturday, facing Oswego St. in a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for noon.

“We’re ready for Oswego,” Barry said. “A good week of practice and we’ll be all right.”

WLAX: Gulls pull away from Stevenson to come away with 2017 season opener

By Brad Kelly

Staff Writer

The fifth-ranked Salisbury women’s lacrosse team (1-0) used a nine-goal second half to pull away from the Stevenson University Mustangs (0-1) to win their 2017 season opener, 16-9. The win brings the Sea Gulls to 13-2 at Sea Gull Stadium over the last two years and jump-starts their quest for another Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) crown.

Salisbury jumped out to an early 3-0 lead not even 11 minutes into the game. The Gulls’ had no issue getting free rushers to the net early. However, Stevenson countered with their own 3-0 surge to tie things up near the halfway mark of the first half.

The Gulls’ upperclassmen saw a quick end to that, though, securing a 7-4 lead going into halftime after two goal performances from junior attacker Dana King and junior midfielder Allison Hynson in the first half. Salisbury’s offensive unit played aggressively in the early going, firing 19 shots on goal thanks to winning both the draw control and the ground battle over the Mustangs.

While Stevenson kept the score close, the Gulls unloaded a five-goal barrage over the first nine minutes of the second half, essentially putting the game out of reach as Salisbury would get out to an eighth goal over the latter part of the game.

During the run, junior attacker Kristen Murphy, sophomore attacker Lindsey Wagner, and senior midfielder Gabbi Nieves all contributed with two goals each. Nieves, who led the team with 41 goals in 2016 and was named a CAC All-American, leads the team’s offense and was excited by what she saw.

“I am impressed with the talent that we have on this team and the way the freshmen played when they got in,” Nieves said. “We forced a lot of turnovers and created quality offensive chances.”

The Gull’s defense is anchored by junior goalie Gianna Falcon, who made five saves on 12 shots. Salisbury created 16 turnovers on the day, led by senior defensemen Kayla Miller and Kieran Kelleher who both created three turnovers themselves.

King, Murphy and Nieves led the Salisbury offensive effort with three goals apiece. King also chipped in two assists, which tied for the team-high. The Mustangs centered their offensive attack around senior attacker Brady Heher, who had three goals on five shots.

If Salisbury captures the CAC crown this season, it would mark their fifthteenth straight season of doing so. Expectations are higher than ever for the top-ranked Gulls, whose postseason run was ended in a heart-wrenching overtime loss to Franklin & Marshall in overtime last season. But, managing those expectations is nothing new for the Gulls’ players.

“Expectations for Salisbury lacrosse are always high,” Nieves said. “It is just a matter of living up to the name.”

Salisbury will look to continue living up to that name in a ranked contest on the road that will pit them against the No. 11 Catholic University Cardinals on Feb. 25. The Gulls beat the Cardinals last season 12-7.