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WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Thanks to a nine-run first inning, the University of Delaware baseball squad earned its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens downed host UNCW 10-3 at Brooks Field.

The No. 4 seed Blue Hens (34-21) closed out a dominating unbeaten performance during the week as they won games on four straight days, outscored opponents 38-14, and downed the host and No. 2 seed Seahawks (30-29) twice.

Delaware, which has now won 10 of its last 11 games, captured its first conference title since winning the America East Tournament crown in 2001. The Blue Hens will return to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time in school history.

Delaware will find out its NCAA Regionals destination on Monday, May 29, when ESPN2 TV reveals the 64-team field live at 12 noon.

“I'm happy for all these guys because they've worked so hard,” Delaware head coach Jim Sherman said. “Today is an emotional day because I'm thinking about all our alums that just missed out on the tournament. But I'm happy this group accomplished what we did. What our group has done so far this year will serve as a source of pride for the others. This is a special victory.”

The Blue Hens sent 14 batters to the plate in the opening frame, recording nine runs on jusgt six hits. Delaware chased both UNCW starter Luke Geselle as well as Seahawks reliever Chris Joyner. Geselle went just one-third of inning and faced just five batters.

Delaware received seven brilliant innings of relief from sophomore Kyle Hinton, who allowed just one run and four hits to earn the win. Hinton, who pitched for the second consecutive day, earned a spot on the CAA All-Tournament team after also pitching two and two-thirds innings in Friday's 14-8 triumph over UNCW.

The Blue Hens received a pair of hits from sophomore first baseman Nick Patten and senior designted hitter Doug Trimble. Trimble scored twice while Patten went 2-for-3 with two runs batted in.

After Delaware allowed a lead-off home run to Casey Golden, the Blue Hens bats came alive in the first. Lead-off hitter Kevin Mohollen, who batted twice in the first frame, led off with a single and later scored on Calvin Scott's RBI single. Scott reached base for the 25th straight game.

Delaware added their second run of the inning on Trimble's RBI hit. After Diaz Nardo brought home another run on a ground out, second baseman Nick Tierno drove home a pair, giving UD a 5-1 lead. The Hens struck for another run when Jordan Glover was hit by a pitch. The seventh run of the inning came across on a two-out error before Patten capped the inning with a two-run single.

“We've been working toward this moment since the fall,” Ake said. “We had a great fall, and worked so hard over the winter. We had a great season going, and we knew if we kept going and stuck to the mindset we'd come out with a title. It means so much to win it with this group of seniors, having been with them since the start. We went from the freshman dorms to the top of the conference. It's an incredible feeling and we couldn't for any more.” 

Hinton (2-0), who allowed just two runs in just under 10 innings of work for the tournament, took over for starter Colman Vila in the third inning and allowed only a solo home run in the third inning before pitching shutout ball over the final seven innings.

“At the beginning of the season, I did not have my best stuff,” Hinton said postgame. “Coach Troy [O'Neal] continued to believe in me despite the struggles. Every week he told me ‘you're going figure this thing out', and he told me it would happen this week. I was just happy I could help out and be a part of this, because this is awesome. This is one of the best feelings I've ever experienced.” 

Overall, six Blue Hens earned all-tournament honors led by Patten, Hinton, Glover, Brian Mayer, and Ron Marinaccio. Delaware shortstop Jeremy Ake earned CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after batting .429 with five RBI and five runs scored for the tournament.

“I have to say a major thank you to [associate head] coach [Dan] Hammer, because he's been with me my whole head coaching career,” Sherman added. Dan and I have a special relationship and we're happy because it's been 16 years between regional appearances. He's worked hard coaching our club. I cannot say enough about [pitching] coach [Troy] O'Neal, who has done a heck of a job calling pitches this year. He has a knack for calling a game from his time as a catcher and we couldn't have done it without him. And our young assistant coach, Andrew Amaro, works endlessly on scouting and with our hitters. This was an outstanding effort from our whole staff.” 

Over the four-day tournament, Delaware led all teams in average (.308) and ERA (2.75), allowed just 11 earned runs, and trailed for a total of just three and a half innings. The Blue Hens outscored opponents 38-14.

Hen Scratchings:
• The Blue Hens are the first four seed to win the CAA Tournament since Towson back in 2013
• Delaware walked 22 times and struck out just 19 times over the four days.
• UD scored 26 of its 38 runs with two outs. For the tournament, Delaware batted .439 with two-outs.
• Overall UD hit .423 with runners in scoring position.
• Delaware was 6- 7 on stolen base attempts in the tournament. Glover and Mohollen both stole a tournament best two bags successfully in two attempts.
• CAA batters hit just .188 against UD pitchers.
• Delaware is now 17-1 when scoring 10 runs or more and 26-4 when scoring at least six.
• The Blue Hens are 26-7 when out hitting their opponent.
• The Hens' are 30-1 when leading after seven and 32-0 when leading after eight.
• Scott extended his on-base streak to 24 games.• Glover failed to record a hit for the first time in 12 games. He did however reach base safely for the 13th consecutive game.
• Ake batted .429 this week with six hits, five runs scored and five RBI. Ake hit the game winning home run against Northeastern on Wednesday. Ake also walked three times and was hit with a pitch  for an on-base of .556.
• Every single member of the Blue Hens lineup drove in at least two over the four games, and four players drove in at least five
• Patten drove in a tournament best seven runs. 

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