No. 2 CNU splits with No. 1 Hornets
Lindemuth's two-run blast pushes Captains to victory
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Second-ranked Christopher Newport (29-3, 10-2) was charged with a tough test on Sunday, facing undefeated All-American Greg Van Sickler just one day after falling to No. 1 Shenandoah (22-2, 9-1) in the first game of the weekend series. CNU was up to the task, though, and stung the Hornets with a come-from-behind 5-3 victory to salvage a split of the two game set.
One day after setting a park record for attendance, Captains Park welcomed in a new record crowd on Sunday as 1,050 people watched on as CNU defeated Shenandoah. The Hornets looked to be in control after the first few innings, with a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Cory Nelson led off the second inning with a solo home run and catcher Keaton Neeb hit a two-run shot in the third to stake the Hornets to their early lead. Sophomore starter Greg Goldsmith settled in, though, and kept Shenandoah off the board after that.
Goldsmith pitched 7.1 innings and struck out seven. He retired seven of eight straight batters in the middle innings as Christopher Newport began to settle in offensively.
The Captains got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning, manufacturing a run after a Shannon Mark walk and Luke Saunders single. That set up an RBI single from catcher Ben Lenda, ending the shutout bid by Van Sickler.
Shenandoah's starter had been tremendous, holding CNU to just three hits in the first five until the Captains broke through in the sixth. CNU added another in the bottom of the seventh as the team's leading run producer, Connor Madden, delivered an RBI single scoring pinch runner Tony Adams. Adams came in after designated hitter Chris McDougal laced an inning-starting single to center field.
The Captains were still down 3-2 headed into the eighth inning as the Shenandoah bats opened up again. Neeb earned a one-out walk off of Goldsmith, followed by a single by second baseman Mike Minch. CNU called on top reliever Ryan Fleischmann to come in with one out. After a sacrifice-turned-base hit bunt from Greg Krout, the sophomore reliever strapped in and retired the next two batters to get out of the jam.
Luke Saunders led off the bottom of the 8th with a single, representing the game-tying run. After a strikeout from Van Sickler, the Captains first baseman, Steven Lindemuth, stepped into the plate. With two strikes, Lindemuth smacked a two-run home run over the right-center field wall and put CNU on top for the first time in the game, 4-3. Steven Keener laced a double down the right field line in the next at-bat to finally force Van Sickler off the mound. Kyle Scallion came in for the Hornets and gave up back-to-back singles from Billy Steel and Madden, as the latter scored pinch runner Travis Medina.
Shenandoah got out of the inning despite Drue Vernon also delivering a single off of Scallion, but Steel was called out at the plate on a relay throw from the left fielder.
With the game headed into the ninth inning, Fleischmann returned to the hill. The sophomore closer left no doubt, striking out Van Sickler and Clint DeHaven to start the inning, and then getting Beall to ground-out after giving up a single. Fleischmann earned the win, improving to 4-0 this season with 1.2 innings pitched, two hits allowed and two strikeouts.
It was the fifth win over the nation's top-ranked team in head coach John Harvell's tenure and the seventh time in school history the Captains won over the No. 1 team in the country. It was also Coach Harvell's 299th career win at CNU.
Lindemuth led the way offensively for CNU, going 2-for-4 with the 2-run homer. Saunders finished the game 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Steel and Madden also had two-hit games. CNU is just the third team this season to hold Shenandoah to three runs or less, and the Captains also handed Van Sickler his worst outing of the year as he allowed all five earned runs.
Shenandoah got two hits each from Kevin Brashears, Cory Nelson and Mike Minch.