Homepage Photo (from left): Former UD player Mickey DeMatteis, head coach Jim Sherman, UD Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hannah, Delaware Director of Athletics Eric Ziady, and Blue Hen Hall of Fame player Dave Yates

NEWARK, Del.  --  The script could not have been written any better and the University of Delaware baseball team came through in a big way.

On a day when Delaware’s glorious baseball past met its exciting future, current Blue Hens Ryan Hartley and Luke Alicknavitch keyed the victory as UD posted a 4-3 Colonial Athletic Association triumph over UNCW under sunny skies at Bob Hannah Stadium.

Alicknavitch earned the win on the mound by getting out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning and third baseman Hartley (below) delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the of the inning  for the game-winner. Alicknavitch (2-2) then closed down the Seahawks in the ninth to seal the win.

Hartley, EJ Stoltzfus, Norm Donkin, and Zach Lopes each collected two hits on the day for Delaware with Hartley coming through with two RBI and Lopes adding one himself.

Delaware (20-20, 7-7), which defeated UNCW 7-3 on Saturday, won the three-game series and moved into sole possession of third place in the CAA standings. The Seahawks, who had tied the game up at 3-3 with two runs in the seventh, fell to 21-22 (6-7 CAA) and dropped to fourth place.

Nearly 100 former Blue Hen players and coaches were on-hand to help celebrate the rededication of Bob Hannah Stadium. The facility underwent extensive renovations this spring with the addition of a new turf field, dugouts, scoreboard, batting cages, and bullpen areas. Hannah, a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame who won over 1,000 games with the Blue Hens, was honored in a pre-game ceremony where a bust of his likeness was unveiled.

“We did our job and won the series and that’s what it’s all about,” said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman, who was an All-American player under Hannah in 1979-82. “This was a great weekend. There was so much pride in Delaware baseball out here and you could feel the energy in the ballpark. We had about 100 alumni guys and coaches back and it was great to have such a big win with them here.”

Delaware senior Dan Gatto (below) was outstanding once again on the mound as he went 7.1 innings and allowed just seven hits and three runs before giving way to Taylor Mahoney with one out and one on in the eight with the score tied at 3-3. Mahoney walked Terence Connelly and struck out Teddy Cillis before being lifted for Alicknavitch. UNCW pinch-hitter Gavin Stupienski reached base on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, but the Hens’ right-handed stopper struck out Drew Farber to end the threat.

The Hens went ahead for good in the bottom of the inning as Lopes led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by Jake Clark, and advanced to third on a groundout by pinch-hitter Tyler Powell. Hartley then came up with the biggest hit of the day as he lined a single to center off reliever Kelly Secrest to score Lopes with the game-winner.

Alicknavitch then closed out the win in the ninth. After UNCW third baseman Steve Linkous got on base with a one-out single, Alicknavitch struck out Casey  Golden and retired Joe Bertone on a comebacker to the mound to complete the victory.

“Today was a huge win for the club, for Coach Hannah, and for the whole new complex,” said Alicknavitch. “I was just trying to do my job out there today. Danny Gatto did a great job to get us to that point (eighth inning) and we got good defense and timely hitting.”

Delaware had appeared to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Clark’s slow roller over the third base bag with two outs scored Stoltzfus and Donkin. But after a heated debate from both coaches that lasted nearly 10 minutes, the umpires finally ruled that the ball was foul and sent the runners back to their bases. The Hens came up empty as Clark then grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

UNCW opened the scoring on an RBI double by Farber in the third before the Hens came right back to tie it in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Lopes.

Delaware went up 3-1 thanks to single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Joe Giacchino scored from second when Norm Donkin had an infield hit but shortstop Connelly overthrew first base for an error. In the sixth, Hartley’s double to the gap in rightcenter scored Clark, who had walked to open the inning.

UNCW put two runs across in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3 on an RBI single up the middle by Andy Austin and on a single to leftfield by Golden. Delaware avoided further damage as Blue Hen leftfielder Alex Mottle threw out Farber at the plate on Golden’s hit.

Delaware will play three home games against local foes this week as the Hens welcome Wilmington University to Hannah Stadium on Monday and host Delaware State for a doubleheader on Apr. 30.