UNCW opens baseball conference with 11-10 victory

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The University of North Carolina Wilmington opened this weekend’s CAA conference baseball tournament with an 11-10, seesaw victory over the James Madison Dukes with an extra-innings walk-off single.

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth, UNCW senior Ryan LaGrange laced a single into left field and then took second base on a wild pitch. With the runner in scoring position, freshman right fielder Teddy Cillis drove a base hit into the right-center field gap allowing the winning run to score.

“I was up in the count, and I was just looking for anything middle in that I knew I could drive down and hard,” Cillis said about the winning hit. “I ended up getting a fastball inside, right where I wanted it.”

The Seahawks led throughout the beginning of the game and took a 4-1 lead into the top of the sixth. Mat Batts was cruising toward his seventh conference win of the year when the Dukes lit him up for seven runs in the sixth inning, all coming with two outs.

Despite the huge momentum swing, the Seahawks chipped away and eventually tied the game at 10 in the bottom of the ninth.

“We felt like every time they scored we would have the answer for them.” LaGrange said. “We’ve been in this spot a lot this year, and haven’t always responded the way we wanted to. It’s not about tying it back up in that inning; it’s about chipping away.”

Coming into this game, Batts was 1-1 with a 9.98 ERA against James Madison and these struggles continued today. The conference pitcher of the year gave up six runs in just over five innings pitched.

The winning pitcher for the Seahawks was senior William Prince who improved his record to 2-0 on the year. He entered the game in the top of the ninth with runners on first and third but was able to get out of the jam and pitch a scoreless tenth.

This win means UNCW avoided playing a doubleheader on Wednesday, and now enter the winners bracket of this weekend’s double elimination tournament. The Seahawks will face new CAA member College of Charleston on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. UNCW won the season series against the Cougars 2-1.

“You’re talking about two pretty good clubs that are going to be able to run some solid arms out there at each other,” UNCW head coach Mark Scalf said. “It’s a matter of whether or not pitchers can execute pitches and if we can make plays behind them.”

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