Eight-run rally in ninth sends No. 8 Christopher Newport to DH sweep
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- No. 8 Christopher Newport trailed 7-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning during the second game of a USA South doubleheader on Saturday, but escaped with a sweep after an impressive rally. Junior Justin Weaver capped the eight-run ninth with a game-winning double to left center field, leading CNU to an 8-7 win against Ferrum (1-3, 0-2). In the first game, CNU (3-0, 2-0) shut out the Panthers 3-0 behind junior transfer Austin Chrismon (1-0).
The Captains offense was frustrated all game as Ferrum's senior right-hander, Tyler Easterly, pitched seven innings of shutout baseball. He struck out four and only allowed two hits in the first seven innings as his offense built a big lead behind him.
Shortstop Alex Stepp drove in a pair in the second inning with a single, and Eddie McGrath added a two-RBI single in the fourth. By the time Easterly exited the game, CNU trailed 6-0. The Panthers would tack on one more in the top of the ninth after Brennan Iley was hit by a pitch and stole second. Catcher Hank Parsley drove him in with a single to right and the Captains faced what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with just three outs to work with.
CNU was patient in the ninth, working the count and getting on base. Bryant Lowry, who had hit his first collegiate home run in the first game, worked a walk to start the inning, followed by Weaver getting on via hit-by-pitch. Jacob Houston started the rally with an RBI double down the right field line, scoring pinch runner Joey Plesce. Then, rookie Kyle Corwin drove in a pair with a single to right and another run scored on a throwing error by the catcher. After another walk, the tying run would come to the plate in Billy Steel. The junior walked to load the bases, bringing up senior Chris McDougal with the bases loaded, representing the go-ahead run.
McDougal hit a grounder to the shortstop, which scored one run, but then an errant throw allowed another runner to score, cutting the lead to just one, 7-6. With the Captains batting around, the big situation would then rest on the shoulders of pinch hitter Tommy Kane. The sophomore catcher hit a hard shot down the left field line that the outfielder couldn't reach, scoring Steel and tying the game. McDougal was caught at third for the second out, adding more drama to the situation. Weaver, who had reached and scored earlier in the inning, stepped in for his second at-bat and ended the game. He drove an 0-1 pitch high and deep into left center field, dropping just beyond the diving hands of Jeffery Swoope, scoring Kane for the game-winning run.
Sophomore Jordan Boze picked up the win after two innings of relief, striking out a pair.
In the first game, Chrismon struck out eight in seven innings of work to earn the win, and senior closer Ryan Fleischmann picked up his first save of the season. With Matt Verdillo working the eighth, the Captains pitching staff struck out 12 in the game, allowing nine hits.
Offensively, rookie Bryant Lowry blasted his first career home run and drove in a pair of runs in a 2-for-4 performance. Junior Billy Steel added three hits in four at-bats as CNU collected nine hits in the win.
On the day, Weaver led the Captains attack, going 3-for-5 in the two games with two runs scored and an RBI.