Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Chris Lopez pitching at Lynn.
NEW CASTLE, Del. - - The tale of two endings provided a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference doubleheader split for the Wilmington University baseball team, giving up a late lead to fall, 4-3, in the opener before breaking it wide open late in the nightcap, 11-5, over Philadelphia on Thursday at Wilson Field.
The Wildcats (12-22, 9-5 CACC) held a 3-0 lead heading into the final three innings of play in the opener, but the Rams (15-24, 6-8 CACC) scored three times in the ninth steal game one from the home team. The nightcap went the other way for the Wildcats, as they scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to break a 4-4 tie, and then broke it wide open with a five-run eighth inning to earn the split.
Game one starter Jay Kluka needed to work out of danger in the third and fourth innings, but was able to do so to keep the Rams off the board. He stranded two on second and third in the third and left the bases loaded in the third. The offense gave him a lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Julian Kurych started things with a double to right center, the team's first hit of the afternoon. With runners on second and third and one out, Brooks Ryan (right, taken by Joseph Craig) fought a back off inside and singled back up the middle to plate both runners and give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Ryan stole second and came around to score as Jesse long hit a two-out single back up the middle, giving Kluka a 3-0 cushion.
Kluka left a leadoff double on third base in the fifth and then set the Rams down in order in the sixth. But with two outs in the seventh, and Kluka nearing the end of his threshold, the Rams got on the board as Fernando Garza hit an opposite field solo home run to right center.
Noah Latshaw replaced Kluka for the eighth and worked around a leadoff single to retire the side. Kyle Menchaca entered in the ninth looking for the save, but back-to-back one-out walks started a rally for the Rams. Garza added another RBI in the game with a single through the right side, spelling Menchaca for Brad Scull. The Rams tied the game with sacrifice fly, before a jammed bloop single found the green in no-mans-land in left to bring in the go-ahead run.
Long and JR Gregory walked in the bottom of the ninth with one out, but back-to-back looking strikeouts ended the threat and left the tying run on second base.
The Rams scored first in the nightcap, but the Wildcats had an answer in the home half of every inning the visitors scored. The Rams put two on the board in the fourth and quickly retaliated in the home half.
Long reached on an error and Rocky Ferrier put the first two on with a bunt single. Now with runners on second and third and two outs, Christian Adorno hit a two-run single into right center to tie the game.
A two-run double with no outs in the fifth put the Rams back in front before reliever Chris Lopez came on to extinguish the fire and leave runners on second and third in the inning.
Ferrier slapped a pitch through the left side to score Max Carney and the Wildcats again tied, 4-4, as an attempted 6-3 double play was thrown away, allowing Long to score.
Lopez settled in and picked up an around the horn double play in the sixth, bringing the offense back to the plate. Adorno started the sixth with a leadoff single before a Kyle Fries single put runners on first and third. Kurych executed a squeeze play to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Lopez again set the Rams down in order in the seventh and Long (left, taken by Joseph Craig from game one) extended the lead in the home half, launching his second homer of the season to left field for the 6-4 lead.
The Rams were able to get one back with a deep sacrifice fly in the eighth, but then the Wildcats broke it wide open by batting around in the bottom half. Ferrier chopped a two-run double over the head of the drawn in first basemen before eventually coming around to score on a wild pitch. Adorno added to the lead with an RBI single to score Gregory. Frank Nigro capped the scoring with another two-out RBI single to right, chasing Adorno home from second.
Dan Hyatt replaced Lopez with two outs in the eighth and then had to work out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth to record his first collegiate save. Lopez went 3.2 innings while picking up two strikeouts for his first win of the season.
Adorno went a perfect 4-for-4 with three RBI in the nightcap while Long and Ferrier each went 3-for-5. Ferrier knocked in three while Long's home run was his lone RBI, but he scored three times as well.
The Wildcats continue to stand in third place in the CACC standings after today's games and have another crucial CACC doubleheader on Saturday. The doubleheader against Post is the final time to catch the Wildcats in action at Wilson Field in the 2016 regular season. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.