Blue Hens Come Back to Defeat Northeastern 4-3 in First Round of Colonial Athletic Association Championship
WILMINGTON, N.C. - After trailing through much of the game, the University of Delaware baseball team scored two runs in the eighth inning to complete a 4-3 comeback victory over Northeastern in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Wednesday at UNCW's Brooks Field.
Senior Dan Gatto pitched a complete game to earn his fifth win of the season, while Aaron Civale took the loss for the No. 5 seed Huskies.
Gatto only gave up three earned runs and allowed just five hits while striking out five Husky batters. After his troublesome second inning, the senior only allowed one hit for the rest of the game.
The No. 4 seed Blue Hens (25-25, 11-10 CAA), who fell behind 3-0 after two innings, tied the game in the eighth inning on a Nick Liggett pinch-hit RBI single - just his second RBI and fourth hit of the season - and took the lead on a Ty Warrington sacrifice fly.
“We knew coming into this game that if we were going to win, it was going to be a tight, low-scoring game,” said University of Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. “Gatto really kept us in there until our bats woke up. Both pitchers were great today and it was one of those game where it was a shame for either team to lose.”
Northeastern (25-28, 9-13 CAA) got on the board with a three-run second inning. The Huskies tallied those three runs on three hits, two of which were extra-base hits.
Husky starter Chris Carmain received a no-decision as the senior pitched seven plus innings, allowing three earned runs and scattering eight hits.
The Blue Hens notched their first run of the game in the fourth inning when senior Jake Clark launched a towering home run over the left field fence.
Delaware was then able to cut the margin in half as the Blue Hens plated a run in the eighth inning on an E.J. Stoltzfus double.
Throughout the game, Delaware hit the ball hard, but Northeastern’s defense had them played perfectly. In the eighth inning, those hard hit balls started to find open space.
Zach Lopes led off the Blue Hen half of the eighth inning with a single. Alex Mottle and Clark were then able to get on and load the bases. After Ryan Hartley struck out, pinch hitter Liggett singled through the left side to tie the game at 3-3.
Warrington then gave Delaware its first lead of the game on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Gatto only needed six pitches in the top of the ninth to close out the Huskies. The effort was Gatto’s CAA-leading third complete game of the season.
“I obviously had a rough second inning,” said the senior pitcher from Dover, Del. (Dover HS). “After that, I really settled into a nice groove and was able to keep the game within reach for our offense and the bats took care of the rest.”
The Blue Hens, who are now 4-0 this year against Northeastern with three of the wins by a single run, will take on top-seeded William & Mary - which received a first-round bye - Thursday at 12 p.m The Tribe won the only two games against Delaware this year.
“With William & Mary’s offense, we are going to need another excellent effort tomorrow,” said Sherman. “It is always a good feeling to be in the winner’s bracket and we just have to keep bringing it each day."
First pitch between Delaware and William & Mary is set for 12 p.m. and UNCW's Brooks Field.