May 22, 2009

GRAND CHUTE, Wisc. - Sophomore Greg Van Sickler tossed a seven-hitter and drove in three runs Friday night to lead Shenandoah University to a 12-2 victory over Farmingdale (N.Y.) State in the Hornets opening game of the 2009 NCAA Baseball Championships.

SU (38-8) moves on to take on the winner of the St. Thomas (Minn.) vs Chapman (Calif.) on Saturday night at 8:45 EDT. Farmingdale (30-16) plays an elimination game against the loser of that St. Thomas/Chapman contest at 1:15 Saturday afternoon.

Van Sickler (9-2) struck out five as he allowed two unearned runs on seven hits in the complete game victory. He was also 3 for 4 at the plate with the three RBI on three singles.

The Hornets got their first run in the top of the first without the benefit of a hit. Rams starting pitcher Steve King (5-4) helped SU through its opening-inning jitters by walking four of the first five hitters; Kevin Brashears, who led off the contest by drawing a four-pitch walk and stole second, scored that initial run when Scott Van Dusseldorp drew another four-pitch walk.

King lasted just six batters before departing with the bases loaded and throwing two balls to No. 7 hitter Jasen Eberz. Unfortunately for coach Kevin Anderson's club, Farmingdale avoided further damage when reliever Chris Phelan ended up striking out Eberz to end the frame.

In the second, Jon Holcomb posted Shenandoah's first hit with a bloop single to right before moving into scoring position when Brashears laced a single past Rams third baseman Ray Levan.

Aggressive base-running produced the second run as Jesse Henry beat out what appeared to be an inning-ending groundball to short and Holcomb, running on the play, beat home the relay throw from first.

Van Sickler made it 3-0 four pitches later with a groundball through the right side to score Brashears from second.

Another defensive miscue, this one on a relay from second to first for a possible double play, led to the Hornets fourth run. Cory Nelson, who had reached on a throwing error and was sacrificed to second, traveled the final 180 feet as FSC Brian Benvenuto skipped a relay throw into the bullpen down the right field line.

Two hits, a walk and a groundout led to run No. 5. Scott Lambert, who led off with a single through the right side, came across with that fifth run when Van Dusseldorp grounded to deep second.

After Farmingdale scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth and neither team scored in the fifth, Shenandoah expanded its lead back to four runs with another RBI single by Van Sickler. The RBI, Van Sickler's 62nd of the year, plated Lambert from second.

SU then busted things open with a six-run eighth as Nelson had the big blow with a three-run blast to left. The dinger, his eighth of the season, made it 9-2.

The Hornets eventually added another three more runs to post double-digit runs for the 20th time this season and double-digit hits for the 31st time in 46 games.