Delaware (29-16) registered its second shutout of the season and now hold a 37-9 record over La Salle, who fell to 20-22 on the season.
“When we were going on our 13-game winning streak earlier in the season it was offense driven,” said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. “Maybe this is the start of another streak where defense and pitching takes the reigns.”
Kuhl (8-2) tallied his team-leading eight victory of the season with seven shutout innings on the mound. He held the Explorers to five hits and three walks in addition to striking out four.
The relieving duo of Jake Clark and Eric Buckland completed the shutout win with two scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts.
In the bottom of the first inning, Joe Giacchino drew a walk, stole second base and raced home for the game’s first run on EJ Stoltzfus’ (below left) RBI single up the middle.
Nick Ferdinand slugged a one-out triple to the right-center field gap and was driven in by Cameron Travalini, who lifted a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third inning.
With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Travalini connected on a swinging bunt up the third-base line that was fielded by La Salle starter Ryan Donohue. A throwing error by Donohue on the play that was wide of the catcher accounted for two runs to score and gave the Hens a 4-0 lead.
Giacchino and Stoltzfus led Delaware’s with two hits apiece. Jimmy Yezzo extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the fifth inning. Ferdinand owns a seven-game hitting streak while Stoltzfus owns a five-game hitting streak and registered his sixth multi-RBI game of the season with two in the win.
“Stoltzfus has been very steady for us over the last two weeks,” said Sherman. “He has been a boost to our offense now hitting in the middle of the order.”
La Salle had opportunities in the game to score as the Explorers left nine men on the bases.
The bases were loaded in the top of the fourth inning for the Explorers when Brandon Day lifted a fly ball to right field that was caught by Ferdinand, who showcased his defensive prowess for the second-straight game. The UD right fielder completed the inning-ending double play when Delaware catcher Ty Warrington caught Ferdinand’s throw in the air in time to apply the tag on the runner trying to score from third base.
“Brings back some memories when I was chucking the ball out in right field,” Sherman said about the play. “Nicky is a quality right fielder that can throw as well as any outfielder in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
The Explorers were held to seven hits in the defeat as Kevin Conroy was the only La Salle offensive player with two hits in the game.
Donohue (3-4) suffered the loss after the La Salle starter was charged with four runs (three earned) on five hits, six walks and five strikeouts in five innings of work.
The Blue Hens and Explorers continue their non-conference weekend series on Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. at Bob Hannah Stadium.
Right-hander Matt Soren (3-3, 2.85 earned-run average) takes the mound for Delaware in game two while La Salle hands the ball to left-hander Shawn O’Neill (4-4, 6.90 ERA).
“Soren’s challenge is now to out perform what Chad did today,” said Sherman. “We want to turn this into a chain of competitive dominoes falling one after another with our pitchers taking the mound.”