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Top Seeded Wildcats Fend Off Upset Minded Felician, 5-4, in First Round of CACC Baseball Tournament

CACC Tournament: #1 Wilmington 5 - #5 Felician 4 - First Round

Thursday, May 9, 2013 - New Castle, DE

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Senior Brandon Payne hit a leadoff triple down the right field line in the bottom of the eight to set up the go-ahead run on Thursday in the first round of the CACC Tournament. Photo credit: Ellen O'Brien, CACC



Sophomore Frank Samluk followed Payne with the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, going 2-for-3 with a sacrifice against Felician on Thursday. Photo credit: Ellen O'Brien, CACC



Senior David Hatt pitched 7.1 innings, striking out four batters and only allowing six hits in the no decision on Thursday in the first round of the CACC Tournament. Photo credit: Ellen O'Brien, CACC

A Brandon Payne triple and a Frank Samluk RBI single in the eighth helped the Wilmington University baseball team stave off a hungry Felician team, 5-4, in the opening round of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Wilson Field.

The fifth seeded Golden Falcons (20-31 overall), who already upset the No. 4 Philadelphia Rams in the play-in round on Tuesday, score three runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game, but the Wildcats (38-12 overall) responded on back-to-back hits in the bottom half to score the game-winner.

The win was the 11th straight for Wilmington as it moves onto the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament. The rest of the tournament is set to be played at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, home of the Blue Rocks.

The Wildcats move on to face upset minded and No. 6 seed Chestnut Hill in the winner’s bracket after the Griffins defeated No. 2 Dominican, 10-1, in Thursday’s other game. Chestnut Hill also defeated No. 3 Concordia on Tuesday to reach the double-elimination portion of the tournament. Friday’s winner bracket game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

On Thursday, the Wildcats battled back from a 1-0 deficit with a pair of runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. After allowing a first inning run, CACC Pitcher of the Year David Hatt shut the Golden Falcons down, pitching into the eighth inning. After one hit and one run in the first, Hatt only allowed three additional hits heading into the eighth inning. In all, Hatt went 7.1 innings with four strikeouts, giving up four runs on six hits.

Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Samluk got the Wildcats going with a leadoff single through the left side. Joe Marciano followed with a double to the gap in right center to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. Two batters later, Jon Castro doubled to the same gap in right center, scoring both Samluk and Marciano for the 2-1 lead, but was thrown out at third attempting to stretch the hit into a triple.

Hatt came back out in the sixth and shut the Falcons down in order, bringing the bats back up to the plate in the home half.

Sam Goines led off the sixth with a triple to the fence in left center, setting up the big inning. Payne stepped in and singled to right field for the RBI and the 3-1 lead. Now with runners at first and third and one out, Jordan Johnson laid a perfect bunt down the third base line, scoring Payne from third and easily reaching first for the hit.

The senior right-handed pitcher ran into trouble in the eighth however, getting the first out of the inning before allowing the next three batters to reach base, the final hit scoring a run to close the gap to 4-2. Tyler Fries replaced Hatt and recorded the second out of the inning but not before the Golden Falcons cut the deficit to 4-3 with another RBI single. Nick Marics took over for Fries but gave up the game-tying RBI single back up the middle before inducing a tapper that catcher Matt Lopes pounced on and threw to first for the final out of the inning.

Not wasting any time in getting back on top, Payne led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple down the right field line that nearly brought up chalk before heading towards the visitor’s bullpen. Samluk followed with his second hit of the game, an RBI seed to right field to put the Wildcats back in front, 5-4.

Marics returned to the mound and shut Felician down in order, picking up the first round win and putting the Wildcats in the winner’s bracket. Marics is now 4-3 on the season.

Payne went 3-for-4 with his fourth triple of the year, scoring two runs for the Wildcats. Goines, Samluk, and Marciano collected two hits apiece for the home team while Johnson, Castro and Lopes rounded out the 12 team hits.

In the day’s other contest, Chestnut Hill used 16 hits and six Dominican errors to take control against the Chargers, winning 10-1 to move into the winner’s bracket against the Wildcats. Today was only the second victory for the Griffins in the CACC Tournament, with Tuesday’s play-in game being the program’s first. Robert Hopkins pitched a complete game three-hitter for the Griffins, striking out seven batters in the win.

Dominican and Felician will play the first game on Friday at Frawley Stadium in an elimination game. The first pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. The Wildcats and Griffins will follow approximately 45 minutes following the completion of the first contest.