NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware baseball program took a combined no-hitter into the eighth inning of Saturday’s 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Elon University at Bob Hannah Stadium.

Freshman Billy Sullivan IV threw 6.2 dazzling innings for the Blue Hens (24-22, 8-9 CAA), striking out seven Elon batters and allowing just one run. Senior Colman Vila came on for Sullivan IV in the seventh and pitched the final two and one-third innings, allowing just a soft well-placed single that eluded a trio of Delaware fielders.

Entrenched in a pitchers’ duel for a large majority of the game, the Blue Hens fell behind early Saturday afternoon as the Phoenix (28-19, 10-7 CAA) struck for a third-inning run without the benefit of a hit.

Sullivan IV quickly rebounded in the fourth inning, retiring the side in order. Leading off the home half of the fourth, junior Nick Patten lifted his seventh home run of the season to tie the game at one.

The game remained 1-1 until the bottom of the sixth when Delaware struck for a pair of runs. After Tyler Callender reached on an error and advanced to third on a two-out Calvin Scott single, freshman Jordan Hutchins roped a single into left centerfield that plated Callender. An Elon throwing error on the play allowed Scott to score all the way from first.

Armed with a lead for the first time, Sullivan IV returned to the mound for his seventh inning of work. After striking out the first two batters of the frame, the righty walked a batter prompting the pitching change. Vila shut the door in the inning by striking out Elon’s Zach Evers.

Vila returned for the eighth and retired the lead-off hitter with a fly ball. On a 0-1 count, Elon shortstop Ryne Ogren lofted a single that fell for Elon’s lone hit.

The Delaware lefty returned for the top of the ninth and struck out the final two batters he faced, securing the victory. Other key performances included Kyle Baker going 2-4 with a double, and Hutchins going 3-3 with the pivotal sixth-inning single.  

Delaware will look to take the series from the Phoenix tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. Freshman Chris Ludman will make his fourth consecutive Sunday start for the Blue Hens, while junior Ryan Conroy will take the ball for Elon.

Head coach Jim Sherman

“Billy put us on his back and carried us today, obviously preserving the no-hitter through his entire outing. It’s rare that you take a guy out who hasn’t allowed a hit into the seventh inning, but his pitch count was elevated. We want to be smart and protect him first and foremost. If he didn’t have the no-hitter going he wouldn’t have even gone out for the seventh. We tried to get him through that one last inning, but as soon as he gave up that last walk I knew it was time to get Vila in there. Like he has all year for us, Vila closed the door. We got a great performance from Sullivan and Miller behind the plate who called a great game. Then Hutchins delivered the big hit with two outs to get the go-ahead run. Tomorrow we need Chris [Ludman] to keep doing what he has been doing the last three outings. Hopefully, we can get a good six innings from him and then we’ll be in a position to win the game. We’re really happy with what Luddy has done up to this point, and he has a bright future as well. ”

On Hutchins:

“Some guys have a knack for getting that big hit, and Jordan is a guy for us who is proving that to be true. He does a great job of focusing in, in those key spots. He’s shown at a young stage of his career that he excels in those moments. The evidence is in the numbers. Hutchins has had many big two-out hits for us this season. Hopefully, that stays true for the rest of his career.”

 On the leadership Vila and captain Nick Spadafino have provided:

“Those two guys are such a critical part of what we do both on the field as well as teaching our younger guys. Spadafino does such a good job of taking the time to talk with all of our younger guys about how to pitch in specific situations. Vila does the same thing. They’re both extremely experienced being fifth-year guys in our program, so they have a lot of knowledge. So those guys are critical not just as performers but also as leaders.”

Sullivan IV:
"Last week wasn't my best outing so bouncing back today from that is huge for my confidence. I thought [Zack] Miller did a great job of calling the game today as coach Troy [O'Neal] allowed us to call our own game today for the first time which was fun. Today, my changeup was really working. I didn't have the best command of my fastball, so the changeup was huge. There are a few little things that I have to work on, but overall it was a great team win today. We were struggling a bit, so we really needed this one today. Jordan came up with a crucial hit and then Calvin had the heads up play to score that extra insurance run. Today was a just a great all-around game for us. 

HEN SCRATCHINGS: 
• Today's victory snapped a five-game CAA losing streak. 
• Sullivan IV improves to 4-0 this season at Bob Hannah Stadium. 
• The righty is now 3-0 this season against CAA foes at home. The freshman has allowed just five runs in his four CAA starts (25.2 innings), striking out 41. 
• With his seven strikeouts today, Sullivan raised his season total to 75 which is fourth in the CAA.
• Hutchins' 3-3 day raises his batting average to .310 for the season (84 at-bats). 
• Vila lowered his ERA to 0.97 on the year and recorded his 45th strikeout of the season (37.0 IP). He made his 22nd appearance of the season. 
• The lefty has allowed just four earned runs all season and is pitching to an ERA of 0.53 as a reliever.