Delaware (30-16), which won its third straight game, reached the 30-win plateau for the seventh time in head coach Jim Sherman’s 13-year tenure and for the 14th time in the last 20 seasons. La Salle, which dropped the series opener to Blue Hens 2-0 on Friday, fell to 20-23 and lost their third straight game.
The win marked the third-straight quality start for the Delaware pitching staff and the third shutout of the season.
The Blue Hens, who have now held opponents scoreless over the last 21.1 innings, posted back-to-back shutouts for the the first time since 1998 when Delaware blanked Northeastern 13-0 and 3-0 in a doubleheader sweep on Apr. 25 in Brookline, Mass.
“The pitching staff has really stepped up for us and they are putting up a lot of goose eggs,” said Sherman. “We need some of these wins earned by the pitching staff.”
Soren (4-3) snapped a two-game losing streak as the right-hander threw eight scoreless innings for the Blue Hens en route to his fourth win of the season. He held the Explorers to three hits and three walks that went with 15 strikeouts. Soren pocketed a strikeout in all eight innings and struck out the side in the first, fourth and seventh innings.
Soren's strikeout total was the highest total by a Blue Hen pitcher in over a decade and the most since Jason Rogers whiffed 15 Hofstra batters in Delaware's 15-0 win over the Pride at Bob Hannah Stadium back on May 4, 2002.
“About the third inning you really could see things really roll for him,” said Sherman. “He was very relaxed and you could really see him in command of his fastball and breaking ball.”
Eric Buckland closed out the ninth inning for the Hens as the right-hander tossed one hitless inning of relief with one walk and one strikeout for his fourth save on the year.
The Blue Hen offense tallied five hits as EJ Stoltzfus (at left) and DJ Long each hammered a pair of base knocks. Stoltzfus scored the first run of the game and later drove in the final run of the contest.
Delaware jumped on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning after Stoltzfus extended his hitting streak to six games with a leadoff triple to the center field wall. Tyler Powell followed with a RBI single that bounced over La Salle first baseman Mark Williams’ head that reached shallow right field and drove in Stoltzfus for an early 1-0 advantage.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning, Stoltzfus lifted a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Long for a 2-0 lead for the Hens with the final run of the game.
La Salle starter Shawn O’Neill (4-5) suffered the loss after the left-hander was charged with two runs (one earned) on five hits, four walks and five strikeouts in seven innings on the mound.
The Blue Hens will look for the series sweep of the Explorers in the non-conference weekend series finale on Sunday, May 5, at 1:00 p.m. at La Salle’s DeVincent Field. Delaware will send right-hander Adam Davis (4-5, 3.93 earned-run average) to the mound while
La Salle counters with righty Shane Hollman (3-4, 5.02 ERA).
“The challenge continues with Davis on Sunday,” said Sherman. “Striking out 15 might be a tough number to beat, but we are counting on Adam to pitch a solid game that will give us every opportunity for a win.”