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Bats Awaken in 10-5 Victory over No. 6 Merrimack as Wildcats Stay Alive in Regional Tournament

Copyright 2018; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Dan Lauletta. May 18, 2018 vs. Merrimack at Regionals.
Copyright 2018; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Dan Lauletta. May 18, 2018 vs. Merrimack at Regionals.

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PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - - The offense came alive for the Wilmington University baseball team to stave off elimination in the 2018 NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament, 10-5, against sixth seeded Merrimack on Friday morning at Finnerty Field.

The runs came early and often for the Wildcats (35-20), as they put a four spot on the board in the bottom of the first and added five more runs in the bottom of the third. That allowed starter Zach Rumford to settle in and pitch into the seventh inning in keeping the Wildcats alive.

Rumford set the Warriors (31-21) down in order in the top of the first inning, and the bats didn't waste any time to come alive. Christian Adorno hooked a ball over the head of the third baseman for a leadoff double. Max Carney moved Adorno up to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Kendall Small brought him in with a triple that snuck inside the first base bag and all the way into the corner in right. Nick Grant followed with a hard hit single into center, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead with one out.

Brooks Ryan kept the lineup moving, lacing a ball to the gap in right center, racing all the way around for an RBI triple and the 3-0 lead. Frank Nigro chopped one to a drawn in shortstop, but Ryan was moving on contact and scored without a throw to put the Wildcats ahead, 4-0.

The Warriors reached on a two-out error in the top of the third, but Rumford set Merrimack down quietly in the inning, allowing the offense to go to work once again.

Max Carney and Kendall Small singled to star the inning. Nick Grant followed with an RBI single to right and Brooks Ryan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the inning, also ending the day for the Merrimack starter.

The ball got away from the Merrimack catcher on a chopper to third, allowing one Wildcat to score and keep the bases loaded. Dakota Graham made it hurt with a two-run single to right center, giving the Wildcats an 8-0 lead. Brett Nowell capped the inning with a long fly ball to right, allowing Frank Nigro to trot home on the sacrifice fly.

Merrimack finally got on the board with a one out double in the fifth, but Rumford induced a pop up and picked up a strikeout to escape further damage.

Kyle Fries got in on the extra base hit parade in the sixth, chasing Brett Nowell all the way around from first with a double to the gap in right center before getting caught at third on the play.

The Warriors threatened in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with one out, ending the afternoon for Zach Rumford. But reliever Zach Frederick picked up Rumford, as he induced a 4-6-3 inning ending double play to keep the Warriors off the board in the inning.

Merrimack scored a single run in the eighth and loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Justin Mears kept them to two runs before ending the game, 10-5.

Kendall Small went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI, and two runs scored while Nick Grant batted 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. The Wildcats scored their 10 runs on 10 hits in the game.

Rumford improved to 8-3 on the year by going 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts.

The Wildcats are scheduled to play on Saturday morning in another elimination game at 11:00 a.m. at Finnerty Field. They will play the loser of No. 1 New Haven and No. 4 Southern New Hampshire.