Salisbury downs Case Western Reserve to advance to first finals since 2011
MARIETTA, Ohio -- Salisbury advanced to the Division III finals with a 3-2 win against Case Western Reserve on Monday morning at Don Schaly Stadium. The Sea Gulls will be making their fourth all-time appearance at the final site and the first since 2011.
The Sea Gulls were able to apply pressure to Case Western Reserve (34-12), forcing Spartan errors that allowed Salisbury to pull ahead in the contest and ultimately prevail. Salisbury junior Brett Collacchi hurled a gem that kept the Sea Gulls in the contest until the offense was able to push across the necessary runs.
Salisbury (37-7) had an opportunity to get on the board early but it was the Spartans who were able to score first. Case Western Reserve pushed across both of its runs in the fifth but Collacchi was able to limit the damage and keep his team in the ballgame.
In the sixth inning, Salisbury would get on the scoreboard. Junior speedster Kyle Hayman opened the inning with a bunt single but was erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of freshman Pete Grasso. Grasso would go from first to third on a single by senior Quinn Griffith to right center.
Senior Johnny Schiotis executed a sacrifice bunt perfectly, bringing in Grasso from third to cut the Spartan lead to 2-1.
An inning later, the Sea Gulls were able to push across their first run, which was aided by a pair of Spartan errors. Junior Jordan Gowe reached on a miscue to open the inning and was moved up to second with a sacrifice bunt by classmate Austin Barefoot. Gowe would come around to score two batters later when senior Bill Root also reached on an error, tying the game at 2-2.
Salisbury was able to capitalize on mistakes made by Case Western Reserve to push across the would-be winning run in the eighth. Hayman opened the frame by laying down a bunt and advanced to second on a throwing error. Grasso attempted to move along Hayman with a sacrifice bunt but also reached on an error, which allowed Hayman to score for a 3-2 Salisbury lead.
Going into the ninth with the lead, head coach Doug Fleetwood would call upon junior closer Kyle Hamby to finish the contest. He shut the door with a 1-2-3 inning, advancing the Sea Gulls to the national championships.
With the save, Hamby now sits alone atop the Sea Gulls' all-time leaderboard for saves with 12, breaking a tie with current assistant coach Cory Willey.
Hayman continued his stellar tournament, collecting three of the four Salisbury hits on the morning.
Collacchi went eight strong innings, allowing two runs on 10 hits. He picked up his 12th win of the season, tying him for the most wins in a single season by a Salisbury pitcher, matching the mark set by Brian Brushe set in 1977.
Salisbury was well represented on the all-tournament team, with Griffith being named the most outstanding player. Griffith was named as the top first baseman in the tournament, while Collacchi and junior Dan Fein were named the top pitchers of the tournament. Hayman was recognized for his play as well.
Griffith finished the tournament 9-for-16 at the plate with five RBI, including a two-run home run in Salisbury's first matchup against the Spartans on Saturday.
With the baseball team advancing to the national finals, Salisbury again makes history with its baseball, softball, men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse teams advancing to their respective championship events. During the weekend, the softball team swept Christopher Newport in the Super Regional to advance to the championship weekend. On Sunday afternoon, the women's lacrosse team defeated Franklin & Marshall to advance to the national semifinal, followed by the men's lacrosse team defeating Washington (Md.) to reach the national championship game.
It is just the second time that a Division III school has accomplished that feat, with the 2004 edition of the Salisbury team's advancing to their respective championships.
Monday's win extends the Sea Gulls' winning streak to 20 consecutive victories.
The Sea Gulls advance to Appleton, Wisconsin, for the championships, which starts on Friday, May 23. Salisbury will face an opponent from earlier in the season in Cortland State. The Sea Gulls split a two-game series on February 22-23. Salisbury's opening game is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m ET.