Batts Hurls Gem as UNCW Baseball Takes CAA Series Opener With 5-1 Victory Over Delaware
NEWARK, Del. -- UNCW lefthander Mat Batts allowed just one run in a complete game effort while two Seahawks batters hit home runs as UNCW posted a 5-1 victory over the University of Delaware in the teams’ Colonial Athletic Association baseball series opener Friday afternoon at Bob Hannah Stadium.
Batts improved to 4-2 on the year after scattering four hits and striking out 10 batters for the Seahawks, who moved to 21-20 overall and 6-5 in conference play. Delaware, which fell to 18-20 overall and 5-7 in the league, got a strong effort from starter Connor Hibbs in a losing effort.
Hibbs, making his third start of the year, fell to 0-2 despite allowing four runs, three earned, on just two hits in 7.2 innings of work. Reliever Taylor Mahoney was charged with one run in two-thirds of an inning, while John Geffre also fired two-thirds of a frame.
The Blue Hens looked to jump in front during the bottom of the first inning when Joe Giacchino led off with a single and EJ Stoltzfus was hit by a pitch, but Batts rebounded to retire the next three batters and escape the jam. The southpaw then settled down to fire four consecutive hitless innings.
Meanwhile Hibbs retired all nine batters he faced over the first three frames, before the Seahawks scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the fourth. Steven Linkous led off with a bunt that was misplayed by Hibbs, before he stole second base. Casey Golden then flied out to rightfield, and after he moved to third on the play, Golden scored when the throw to third by Blue Hen rightfielder Norm Donkin was off the mark.
Terence Connelly then drilled an opposite field home run over the leftfield fence in the fifth, while Joe Bertone cracked a two-run shot to rightcenter in the sixth to extend UNCW’s lead to 4-0.
The Blue Hens scratched across a run in the bottom of the seventh, as Ryan Hartley (at left) smacked a triple down the rightfield line before crossing the plate on a groundout by Greg Olenski. However the Seahawks tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Robbie Thorburn, before Batts retired Delaware in order in the bottom half.
Giacchino went 3 for 4 to pace the Blue Hen attack, while Hartley’s triple was the only other Delaware hit.
“We couldn’t have scripted a better start from Connor (Hibbs), he gave us an outstanding effort,” said Blue Hen head coach Jim Sherman. “During his last start you could see his stuff coming around, and he had another great effort today. We just ran into a tremendous college pitcher in Batts. We just need our bats to match up better with them tomorrow.”
Delaware and UNCW will play their second game of the weekend series on Saturday, as the game time has been moved up to a 12 noon start. Chad Martin is expected to take the hill for the Blue Hens, while Ryan Foster will start on the mound for the Seahawks.