By SAM MENCARINI
The Mary Washington men’s baseball team knocked off No. 25 Salisbury University last Sunday, March 13, to improve to 12-3 on the season. After losing two games to Salisbury in a doubleheader the previous day, the 24th ranked Eagles rallied in the ninth inning to defeat the Sea Gulls 7-6.
“It says a lot about our team that we came back strong and won a close game the day after losing two to a great Salisbury team,” senior Jackson Clement said. Clement had two hits and two runs in Sunday’s victory and has a .422 batting average for the season.
UMW’s offense got going early, as the Eagles scored two runs in the first inning and two more in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Junior Shane Sixsmith and freshman Beattie Southerland scored the two first inning runs. Sixsmith scored off senior Eric Rehbein’s sacrifice fly, and Southerland crossed home plate thanks to freshman Jeff Rezach’s RBI single.
Salisbury scraped together a run in the fourth inning, but Mary Washington still held a comfortable 4-1 lead until the seventh, when Salisbury exploded for five runs to take a 6-4 lead. Salisbury started off the seventh inning with three straight singles to load the bases with nobody out, which help set up the big inning for the Sea Gulls.
The Eagles were not subdued after blowing the lead, but battled back to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to trim the deficit to one run. With one out in the ninth inning, Clement belted a single and was followed by Rezach earning a walk. Sophomore Seth Jordan reached base but at the cost of Rezach getting out thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice. Coach Sheridan decided to put junior Jeff Zeisler in as a pinch runner for Jordan, which proved to be a wise move. The comeback continued by junior Santino Rosanova getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with Eagles, as freshman Mitchell Herringshaw stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Herringshaw delivered by ripping a single to center field that allowed both Clement and Zeisler to safely score. The Eagles players and fans alike went wild at the thrilling, late inning victory.
“It was a big team win for us,” Rehbein said. “We had great pitching, clutch hitting and played solid defense. We have to build on this win and keep getting better.” Rehbien has a perfect 4-0 record on the season with a solid 3.77 ERA.
The Eagles out hit Salisbury 14-8 in the game, but UMW stranded 12 runners on base in the contest. Only three of the six runs surrendered by Mary Washington pitching were earned, as a pair of errors led to half the Sea Gulls runs. Junior Ryan Engelking pitched three innings in relief for UMW, giving up two runs (one earned) in route to his first win of the year.
“The main reason for our success so far this season is our focus and determination to never be satisfied,” sophomore Torey Mancari said. “We have the drive to get better every day.”
Mancari also added that the win really lifted the spirits of the baseball team, and they look forward to future success. Mancari has an ERA of 3.22 and a 2-0 record this season.
The Eagles have been very impressive both while at the plate and when toeing the rubber. Mary Washington has a team batting average of .342 and a team ERA of 3.11 in 2011.
“We have a very special team this year,” Clement said. “Since every conference game is tough, we have to stay focused every pitch and let the chips fall as they may.”
The baseball team will get back in action this Saturday, March 19, when the Eagles host Wesley College for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.