WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The University of Delaware will kickoff action at the Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championships on Wednesday, May 21, when the Blue Hens take on Northeastern in the first game of the four-day event at 12 noon.

The six-team, double elimination tournament is being hosted this week by UNCW at 3,000-set Brooks Field. UNCW will be hosting the event for the 12th time and takes over after James Madison hosted the last two seasons.

Five different schools have won the CAA title over the past five seasons. The tournament winner will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Delaware (24-25, 10-10 CAA), which is making its third straight appearance in the CAA Tournament but looking for its first-ever title since joining the league in 2002, earned the No. 4 seed and will open play vs. No. 5 seed Northeastern (25-27, 9-12 on Wednesday). The Blue Hens swept a hard-fought series from the Huskies during the regular season, winning games at Bob Hannah Stadium by scores of 1-0 (12 innings), 12-2, and 8-7 (11 innings).

Senior right-hander Dan Gatto (4-6, 3.74 ERA) will take the mound for Delaware in the opener. Gatto pitched 10 shutout innings before getting a no-decision in a 1-0 win over Northeastern back in early April.

"In the first round, we face one of the better teams in the conference with their outstanding pitching," said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. "We had good success against Northeastern during the regular season and I think we match up pretty well. We are excited about sending Danny Gatto to the mound. We have to pitch well and play good defense and our bats came around this past weekend so we are pleased about that. We have to play well in all phases if we want to have a pretty good shot in this playoff format."

Host UNCW (28-25, 10-9 CAA) earned the No. 3 seed and will take on No. 5 James Madison 17-34, 8-12 CAA) in the second game Wednesday at 3:30. The losers from the first two games will meet in an elimination game Wednesday at 7 p.m.

On Thursday, No. 1 seed William & Mary  (32-20, 15-5 CAA) will take on the Delaware vs. Northeastern winner at 12 noon followed by No. 2 seed College of Charleston (38-17, 15-6 CAA) taking on the UNCW vs. James Madison winner at 3:30 p.m. Play will continue on Friday and Saturday.
Delaware is making its third straight CAA Tournament appearance, having reached the championship game in 2012. Offensively, the Blue Hens rank second in the conference in batting (.283) and runs per game (5.6). Junior outfielders Norm Donkin (.333, 30 RBI) and Joe Giacchino (.326, 37 runs) lead the attack and second baseman Zach Lopes (.321) enters the tournament on an 11-game hitting streak. Gatto and freshman Chad Martin (5-4, 4.86 ERA) have been the top performers for the Blue Hens’ pitching staff. Luke Alicknavitch has registered five saves.

The Blue Hens, who finished as CAA Tournament runner-up in 2004, 2007, and 2012, will be looking to capture their first conference title since winning four straight America East Tournament titles in 1998-2001.

Northeastern, which is the tournament’s #5 seed for the second consecutive year, won three games and reached the semifinals of the event last season. The Huskies are led by a pitching staff that ranks second in the conference with a 3.11 team ERA. Senior Chris Carmain (7-2, 2.13 ERA) and freshman Dustin Hunt (6-0, 2.39 ERA) have been the squad’s top two starters. The strength of NU’s offense is at the top of the lineup with junior shortstop Jason Vosler (.330, 29 RBI), senior outfielder Connor Lyons (.338, 47 runs) and sophomore second baseman Michael Foster (.298, 35 RBI, 17 SB).

All-session tickets are $30 for adult chairback reserved seats and $20 for adult general admission seats and for youth 15 & under. Single-day tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youth. Students from participating institutions are admitted free with a valid student ID.

Every game of the 2014 CAA Baseball Championship will be videostreamed live for free in high definition on CAA.TV and the CAA's iPad app. A free login is required to view the games via CAA.TV on a computer or using the CAA's iPad app.
2014 CAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP - Brooks Field – Wilmington, N.C.
Wednesday, May 21
Game 1 - #4 Delaware vs. #5 Northeastern - Noon
Game 2 - #3 UNCW vs. #6 James Madison – 3:30 pm
Game 3 – Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2 – 7 pm
Thursday, May 22
Game 4 - #1 William & Mary vs. Delaware/Northeastern winner – Noon
Game 5 - #2 College of Charleston vs. UNCW/JMU winner – 3:30 pm
Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Lowest Seeded Game 4/5 loser – 7 pm
Friday May 23
Game 7 – Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5 - Noon
Game 8 - Winner of Game 6 vs. Highest Seeded Game 4/5 loser – 3:30 pm
Game 9 – Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 winner – 7 pm
Saturday, May 24
Game 10 - Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 9 – 1 pm
Game 11 (if necessary) - Same two teams, 30 minutes after Game 10