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Justin Mears Nearly No-Hits Chestnut Hill in the Opener, But Wilmington Baseball Splits CACC Doubleheader

Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Justin Mears against Kutztown, taken by Darrin Pratz.
Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Justin Mears against Kutztown, taken by Darrin Pratz.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - - Game one starter Justin Mears was four outs away from a no-hitter in highlighting the Wilmington University baseball team's Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference doubleheader split at Chestnut Hill, winning the opener, 2-0, before falling in the nightcap, 3-2, in extra innings at Latshaw-McCarthy Field.

It was the second straight game that a Wildcat (13-9, 7-2 CACC) went deep into a game with a no-hitter, but the Wildcats couldn't complete the doubleheader sweep as the Griffins (7-8-1, 3-2 CACC) came back to walk-off with the win in the nightcap.

Mears (Georgetown, Del./Sussex Central) earned the first two outs of the eighth inning before giving up a double to left center, the first hit of the game for the Griffins. Mears set the Griffins down in order the first time through the lineup and went 1-2-3 in the fourth inning. He picked up the first two outs of the fifth inning before allowing a walk for the first base runner of the game.

The offense needed Mears to pitch well before they got on the board in the bottom of the seventh. Kendall Small started the inning off with a leadoff double inside the right field line. Kyle Fries moved Small up to third base on a sacrifice bunt before pinch hitter Nick Macey came up with a two-out RBI single down the right field line for the 1-0 lead.

Following Chestnut Hill's first base hit of the game, Mears walked another batter to put runners on first and second. John Hetterman came on and ended the threat with an eight-pitch strikeout. The Wildcats were able to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth, using a two-out error to score Fries who started the inning with a single.

Noah Latshaw came on in the bottom of the ninth and shut the door, striking out two batters before inducing a foul out to end the game, 2-0.

Mears struck out five in earning his first win as a Wildcat. Latshaw earned his third save of the season while Logan Gilbert led the offense with two hits.

The Wildcats got on the board first in the top of the third of game two, as Fries started the frame with an infield single. Dan Hyatt moved Fries to second and Julian Kurcyh came up with a two-out single to right for the 1-0 lead.

Game two starter Zach Rumford struck out six batters in five innings of work and the Wildcats gave the bullpen a 2-0 lead with another run in the sixth. Gilbert smacked a one-out double and Macey came through once against with a two-out RBI single for the 2-0 lead.

But the Griffins struck back immediately, starting the sixth with a leadoff double and an RBI single. They eventually tied the game with a two-out infield single, chasing a runner in from third.

The scheduled seven-inning game headed into extra innings and the Wildcats stranded a runner in scoring position in each the eighth and ninth innings. The Griffins cashed in on their chance in the ninth. A leadoff walk came back to hurt the Wildcats, as he was advanced to second with a sacrifice bunt. Brandon DiBona then hit a walk-off double for the 3-2 victory.

Dan Hyatt was saddled with the loss after 2.1 innings of work. Kurych, Gilbert, and Fries led the offense with two hits each in the nightcap.

The Wildcats return to action on Friday afternoon when they head to first-year program Goldey-Beacom. First pitch of the CACC doubleheader is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at Doyle Field in Hockessin, Del.