HARRISONBURG, Va. – It was a big night for a trio of Delaware natives, as the University of Delaware baseball program defeated the College of Charleston 5-1 Thursday night in the CAA Tournament at Veterans Memorial Park on the campus of James Madison.

Freshman Chris Ludman (2-2) threw one of the strongest starts of his young career, throwing 5.2 shutout innings. Classmate Zack Miller provided a majority of the offense going 2-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Diaz Nardo contributed an RBI and scored twice. Senior James Meeker pitched the final three and a third for Delaware 31-26) to secure his sixth save.

 The Blue Hens struck first Thursday, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning. Senior Calvin Scott opened the frame with a single and advanced to second on a sac-bunt. A one-out walk placed runners on first and second for Miller. On a 3-1 pitch, Scott and Nardo each stole a base setting the table. On the very next pitch, the catcher dunked a single to left that plated both.

After a groundout advanced Miller to second, Kevin Mohollen lined a single into right-center that plated the catcher to make it 3-0. Staked to a three-run lead, Ludman stranded a pair of runners in the second and with help from a great catch from Mohollen worked a scoreless third.

The freshman breezed through the fourth inning, and ended the fifth with a strikeout/caught stealing. Looking to add to the lead, the Blue Hens got the inning started right when Nardo led-off with a double down the third base line.

Nardo advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Miller’s second RBI single of the night. After a sac-bunt and a groundout, Kyle Baker singled home Miller to give Delaware a 5-0 lead.

Ludman returned for the sixth but ran into a bit of trouble, as Charleston placed a pair of runners in scoring position with nobody out. Needing to escape trouble, Ludman retired the next two batters before intentionally walking Ari Sechopoulos to load the bases.

Needing a critical out, the Blue Hens called on James Meeker who ended the two-out threat on a ground ball. Meeker threw a perfect seventh and eighth, before allowing a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Delaware returns to action tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. against top-seeded Northeastern who dropped its CAA opener to UNCW. Senior Nick Spadafino will take the ball for Delaware while Tyler Brown is slated to throw for the Huskies.

Head coach Jim Sherman

“ Tonight another one of our young freshmen made his postseason debut in spectacular fashion. Chris was extremely impressive. Coming on as a preferred walk-on we knew he was talented and a great athlete. We really didn’t think that he would be in our postseason rotation, but here we are. Chris did a great job the last month of the season and he carried the momentum into the playoffs. Then Meeker came out of the bullpen and threw great. Considering the fact that we’ve played three times, we’re in pretty good shape, having used just the three starters and two relievers. Obviously, [Colman] Vila is fresh having not thrown today and Meeker will still have something in the tank for us. It’s another all-hands-on-deck approach tomorrow with Spadafino getting the start. He threw very well his last few opportunities. We’re excited for Nick and to play again. Our guys are really, really pumped to play again. This is starting to resemble last season’s run a bit. That playoff atmosphere is really fun.”

On Miller:

“Coach [Troy] O’Neal and I were talking as we were leaving last night’s game about how quiet of an impact Zack has made for our ballclub. He’s been doing a great job behind the plate and has flown under the radar a bit for us, which considering his position is ironically a good thing. A lot of times you hear the catchers name when he does something wrong. He’s been outstanding, and we couldn’t have asked for more out of him. Tonight, he produced a pair of really important hits for us. He’s really come a long way behind the plate and is doing a great job for us.”

Ludman:

“Pitching in the playoffs was everything that I thought it would be. It was a blast. I knew the intensity was going to be high and I just needed to give everything that I had. I just tried to go out tonight and execute my pitches and stick to the game plan. Miller was excellent tonight for us, and this might have been the best game of his career thus far. He did a great job of blocking a few balls and stole a couple of strikes with his pitch-framing. It was a great game for him and the team.”

 Miller: 

“I think getting those runs early was huge for us. We knew that they were going to be a bit deflated coming off a tough 12-inning loss, so we though it was important for us to strike first. Those two runs got us going and we rolled from there. Being a bit of a younger team, we’re relying on our veterans guys in the dugout and on the field. Colman, Patty, Spad and Mo do a great job of helping us through games.”

HEN SCRATCHINGS

• Tonight’s performance lowers the Blue Hens team ERA to 3.85 on the year.
• Delaware has allowed just four runs in three CAA Tournament games.
• The Blue Hens have outscored College of Charleston 12-1 in the CAA Tournament the last two seasons.
• UD improved to 16-2 when holding a team to less than three runs.
• Ludman earned his first victory since Mar. 13 against Maryland. The freshman lowered his ERA to 3.12.
• Mohollen stole his 15th base of the season.
• Baker drove in his team-leading 39th run of the season and recorded his 25th multiple hit game.
• The junior raised his average to .356 and has now hit safely in seven straight.
• Meeker’s sixth save ties him with Colman Vila for the team lead.
Nick Patten reached base for the 16th consecutive game, while Scott has reached in 15 straight.