MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - - The Wilmington University baseball team took on Stonehill, as well as the cold and wind, to open its 2020 campaign at the Ripken Experience on Friday night, splitting the doubleheader by taking game one, 9-4, before losing the nightcap, 5-4, in eight innings.
The pitchers only allowed four hits combined in the doubleheader, but were hurt by 16 walks, 3 hit by pitches, four wild pitches, and six errors in the field behind them.
The offense got off to a quick start in the opener, as Quintin Ivy and newcomer Nic Hertzfeld began the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles. Now on second and third after a wild pitch, an RBI ground out from Eddie Nevins and a sacrifice fly by Brooks Ryan had the Wildcats in front, 2-0.
The top of the lineup did it again the bottom of the third, as Ivy singled through the right side on a hit-and-run to put runners on first and third. Ivy took off for second on the next pitch, and the ball skipped into center from the catcher, allowing Matt Warrington to score for the 3-0 lead. Hertzfeld again singled and stole second to have two runners in scoring position with one out. Eddie Nevins again ground out to score Ivy for the 4-0 lead. Now with two outs, Brock Nowell doubled over the head of the right fielder, bringing in Hertzfeld to lead 5-0.
Stonehill (1-1) finally got to starter Dan Hyatt in the top of the fourth, as Aiden Wilde led off the inning with an opposite field homer to the short porch in right. But that would be all that Hyatt would allow in his five innings of work.
After Hertzfeld gave the Wildcats a 6-1 lead in the fifth with his third hit of the day, the Skyhawks began to mount a comeback. Three walks loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh, but reliever Mike Cottrell limited the damage to just one run in the inning.
An error and two walks had the bases loaded again in the eighth for the Skyhawks. It looked as though the Wildcats would get out of the jam unscathed with a double play ball, but the throw from short was off the mark, allowing two runners to score and cut the Wildcats' lead to 6-4.
The Wildcats quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, and two walks and a sacrifice fly later, the Wildcats were again holding a comfortable 9-4 lead. Newcomer Nick Robino came on and picked up the final three out in the top of the ninth to secure the season opening win.
Nic Hertzfeld went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs in his Wildcat debut, while Quintin Ivy went 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. Brock Nowell hit a double and went 2-for-4 in the opener as well.
Dan Hyatt went five innings to earn the win, striking out seven while allowing just the one run and the lone Skyhawk hit in the game.
The Skyhawks walked off in the bottom of the eighth to earn the split on Friday, winning 5-4 after being down 4-1.
Three walks loaded the bases for the Skyhawks in the bottom of the first, but starter Rudy Gervolino was able to work around it with only allowing a sacrifice fly to get out of the jam, 1-0. Brooks Ryan then tied the game in the top of the second, singling up the middle, stealing third, and trotting home on an errant throw.
Brooks Ryan again sparked the fourth inning, leading off with a walk before stealing second. Brock Nowell then singled over the head of the shortstop to drive in Ryan for the 2-1 lead. A two-out error later allowed Nowell and Derek Donastorg to score, giving the Wildcats a 4-1 lead.
Stonehill answered right back in the bottom of the fourth, getting a walk and a triple for a run. A wild pitch scored another run, and the Skyhawks were right back in the game, 4-3, after four.
A dropped fly ball started the bottom of the sixth with a runner on second for the Skyhawks, and he was standing on third with no outs after a wild pitch. Dom Grady than struck two batters out, but couldn't get out of the jam, as the tying run came home on another wild pitch, 4-4.
The Wildcats went down quietly in the top of the seventh, and Justin Brooks worked around a leadoff single in the bottom half, leaving two on to send the game into extra innings.
Brooks Ryan started the eighth off with another single, but a failed sacrifice bunt attempt halted the inning as the Wildcats left a runner on first.
A leadoff walk and a fielder's choice put the first two runner son for the Skyhawks in the home half of the eighth, while a passed ball moved them up 90 feet. A wild pitch then scored the game-winner.
The Wildcats have a single contest against Molloy on Saturday. The first pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Polo Grounds at the Ripken Experience.