Blue Hens Battle Back, Defeat Northeastern in Extras and Complete Sweep of Weekend Series
For the second time in three games against Northeastern, the University of Delaware baseball team needed extra innings to defeat the Huskies.
This time, an Alex Mottle game-winning single in the 11th inning was the difference as the Blue Hens (14-14, 3-2 CAA) tallied another Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Huskies by an 8-7 score Sunday at Bob Hannah Stadium.
The Blue Hens, who trailed 6-3 in the eighth inning, sent the game into extra innings on an infield hit by Zach Lopes and then won the game in the 11th as Mottle’s hard shot to second base drove in Norm Donkin with the winning run. Donkin had doubled and knocked in EJ Stoltzfus earlier in the inning to tie the game.
“We talked about how much we really wanted the sweep,” said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. “In a lot of collegiate sports where there are sets, it is easy to be content with just winning two out of three, but we really battled out there. With our conference record, 3-2 looks a lot better than 2-3.”
After a dominating performance from Delaware’s offense in a 12-2 win Saturday, the bats struggled early in Sunday’s game. Northeastern (13-15, 2-4 CAA) pitcher Dustin Hunt recorded his first five outs via strikeout.
Chad Martin started the game for the Blue Hens, but was shaky out of the gate as well as he gave up three runs in the first two innings. Martin then found a groove and retired 11 Husky batters in a row from the third inning to the sixth. The righty pitched seven innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits and collected three strikeouts.
The Huskies seemed to put the game away in the eighth with a three-run inning highlighted by a two-run double from senior Sean Lyons to break open a 3-3 game. Northeastern then tacked on another run to lead 8-5.
Delaware, however would not go quietly. After answering back with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Lopes tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
The Huskies scored one run in the 10th inning, but it could have been worse. With the bases loaded and only one out, Husky freshman Gabe Levanti hit a roller to pitcher Brock Niggebrugge’s left. The junior reacted quickly, gathered the ball, and threw home to incite an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play to limit the damage.
After Sotlzfus was hit by a pitch to lead off the Blue Hen half of the inning, Donkin hit his second double of the day to score Stolzfus from first. Lopes then laid down a well-placed bunt to set up Mottle’s game-winning hit.
The win was the fourth in a row for Delaware and elevated the team to the .500 mark overall for the first time since March 18. The sweep of Northeastern marked the second series sweep of the year for Delaware. The victory was the Blue Hens’ third CAA win and moved them into fourth place in the standings.
It was a significant win against a conference foe and its relevance was not lost of junior Greg Olenski.
“I really think today may have been our best win of the year,” said Olenski, who had an RBI on Sunday. “Just the way we battled back and never gave up shows something about this team. It was a big win and I am really proud of my teammates.”
Mottle and Ryan Hartley led the Blue Hens with two RBI apiece, while junior Joe Giacchino extended his hitting streak to eight games. Donkin had three hits on the day, two of which were doubles. The junior and now leads the Blue Hens with 11 total doubles on the season.
Before the game, Delaware honored Northeastern head coach Neil McPhee who will be retiring at season’s end after 29 years at Northeastern.
“We have a long standing relationship with Northeastern,” said Sherman after the game. “Neil McPhee is a dear friend of ours and we had a ceremony before the game and really wanted to honor his contributions to the game.”
Delaware will next be in action this Tuesday as the Blue Hens will face LaSalle at Bob Hannah Stadium in the second round of the Liberty Bell Classic. First pitch set for 3 p.m.