Blue Hens Rally in Ninth Inning to Defeat La Salle 14-13, Salvage Split with Explorers
After giving up their own 11-10 lead in the top of the ninth, the Blue Hens scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning to earn the victory and move the team back to .500 (15-15) on the season.
Senior first baseman Jake Clark tied the game with a triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and fellow-senior E.J. Stoltzfus drove him in with the game-winning single. The victory was Delaware’s third extra inning win in the last five games.
“It really was not the prettiest of mid-week games, but at least we got a split,” said University of Delaware head coach Jim Sherman, whose team fell to La Salle 18-6 on Tuesday. “It would have been nice to get the game yesterday for the Liberty Bell Classic, but we didn’t back down today and came up with a big ninth inning. It was a good ugly win.”
Junior right fielder turned pitcher Norm Donkin earned his first win in a Blue Hens uniform and La Salle’s Adam Cherry took the loss for the Explorers.
Like Tuesday’s game, the wind was blowing out and provided ideal conditions for a high-scoring game. Each team scored at least one run in the first three innings and tallied a combined 31 hits in the game.
Blue Hen starter Connor Hibbs was only able to pitch just 4.2 innings and gave up nine earned runs on 11 hits. La Salle starter Jorge Jimenez was not able to get through the first inning as the freshman walked four batters, gave up two runs, and recorded just two outs.
Junior Luke Alicknavitch relieved Hibbs and was able to thwart the Explorer offense. The right-hander only gave up four hits and no runs in 3.1 innings of relief and kept the Blue Hens in the game.
Delaware first got on the scoreboard in the first inning on a two-run double from Clark. The senior had five RBI on the game and now has eight hits in his last 15 at-bats.
Clark has not been the only Blue Hen swinging a hot bat as the entire lineup has been producing. The victory over La Salle was the seventh instance in the last 10 games where the Blue Hen offense has scored at least six runs.
In addition to Clark's five RBI, Donkin, Zach Lopes, and Trimble each knocked in two runs and Ty Warrington collected a team-high three hits.
“You have guys at the top of the lineup really hitting well, and it definitely trickles down to the entire lineup,” said Stoltzfus. “When you are seeing the ball well, it just makes the game a lot more fun.”
The Blue Hens looked like they had the game sewn up after a four-run eighth inning, which was highlighted by Doug Trimble’s go-ahead two-run double, which give Delaware an 11-10 lead. But on a day where the teams combined for 27 runs and 31 hits, it would not be that easy.
Delaware left-hander Taylor Mahoney started off the ninth inning for Delaware and registered two outs before Donkin relieved him with two runners on base. Donkin then gave up an infield single and a bases clearing double to La Salle’s Kevin Baron and suddenly the Explorers led 13-11. Baron finished the day with a team-high five RBI.
La Salle (9-20) hit two more home runs on Wednesday. The six home runs the Explorers tallied in the two games against Delaware are the only home runs that have been recorded at newly-renovated Bob Hannah Stadium this season.
The Blue Hens will next be in action on Friday as Delaware travels to College of Charleston for a Colonial Athletic Association series.