Christopher Newport University baseball pulled off a miraculous comeback on the second game of Saturday’s double header against Ferrum College, but the big game was Sunday, which had a lot of implications. After being down late, the Captains came back again, pulling off an impressive sweep and moving to 4-0 on the season with a commanding 3-0 lead of the USA South Conference.
After winning the first game during Saturday’s double header, CNU went down early and were down until the bottom of the ninth. There, they pulled a miraculous comeback and went on to win the game 8-7, with a game-winning double by junior Justin Weaver.
It was the same during Sunday’s game, with the Captains going down 1-0 in the sixth after a single by junior Eddie McGrath from Ferrum.
However, Weaver would once again come up big in the seventh with a double that went down the left field line that would drive in senior Christopher McDougal and sophomore Preston Grissom, giving CNU a 2-1 lead that the Captains would keep.
With fantastic pitching from junior starter Bryan Bierlein, who picked up the win, going seven innings with nine strikeouts and one earned run; senior Matt Verdillo who had two strikeouts in one inning; and the 20th career save for senior Ryan Fleischmann, who moved within two saves of tying the all-time saves record in the USA South; the Captains improved to 4-0 on the season. Each team committed one error, with Jake Perkins, the losing pitcher of Ferrum, racking up six strikeouts and two earned runs in six innings.
Afterwards, Coach John Harvell stated the team has been having “problems offensively,” stranding at least 10 runners in Sunday’s game. However, they have been “finding ways to win” because of their pitching, with winning the USA South being the “ultimate goal.”
Weaver, concerning his double in the seventh, said, “I thought it was foul” and that he knew it was “a solid hit.”
Weaver and Bierlein received awards this week for their efforts on the field. Weaver earned USA South Player of the Week, and Bierlein received Pitcher of the Week.
Going forward, this CNU team still has room for improvement. They stranded runners multiple times throughout the weekend and have had a problem getting the offense going, with it usually coming alive late or when needed. They can still win games that way, but it is usually better to get the early lead.
However, everything else about the Captains is solid. They have a great bullpen full of upper classmen that have the experience and pitches to get them through tough situations. Their fielding is very good, only committing three errors in two games.
With the majority of the team being freshmen and sophomores, this CNU baseball team has the talent to go far, and with this great start, can definitely win the NCAA Championship. However, their offensive woes can possibly hold them back from glory; if they can fix the offense, their final year in the USA South could possibly be one of their best.