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Quick Start and Gambone’s Arm Keeps No. 1 Wilmington Alive with 8-1 Victory Over No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas in the NCAA East Regional Tournament

BB: #1 Wilmington 8 - #2 St. Thomas Aquinas 1 - NCAA Division II East Region Tournament

Friday, May 17, 2013 - Manchester, N.H.

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Sophomore Frank Samluk slides in safely at second on a stolen base in the seventh inning. He batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored on Friday. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved



Sophomore Ray Gambone tossed eighth scoreless innings against St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday, striking out five in improving to 9-1 on the season. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved



Sophomore Matt Lopes batted 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored on Friday against St. Thomas Aquinas in the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved

The Wilmington University baseball team got off to a fast start on Friday in an elimination game in the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament before handing the ball over to Ray Gambone who helped the team cruise to a 8-1 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas at Penmen Field.

The top seeded Wildcats (41-13) avoided elimination by scored three runs in the top of the first before adding a single run in the second and a pair of runs in each of the fourth and seventh innings. Gambone tossed eight scoreless innings, striking out five while only allowing two hits to eliminate St. Thomas Aquinas (39-14) in its first East Region Tournament appearance.

The Wildcats got to Spartan starter Robert Naughton quickly, putting their first two runners on base. Jordan Johnson reached on an error followed by a bunt single by Jon Castro. Now on first and third with one out, Matt Lopes began his outstanding game with an RBI single to left to score Johnson for the game’s first run.

With runners on second and third, Jonathan Rodriguez singled to center field for another RBI before Sam Goines rounded out the first inning scoring with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Lopes for the 3-0 lead.

Coming out to the mound for the first time with the 3-0 lead, Gambone gave up a leadoff single to left, but then did not allow another hit until the middle of the fourth inning. After a walk with one out in the fifth inning, Gambone set the next 11 Spartan batters down in order to get the Wildcats through the eighth inning before turning it over to the bullpen.

Over his last three outings, Gambone has pitched 23 innings while allowing one run and striking out 14 batters. He has currently tossed 20.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run, dating back to the third inning against Bridgeport on April 29.

Joe Marciano started the fourth inning off with a hot shot single to first base before advancing to third on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Johnson. Castro hit a sacrifice fly to center for the innings’ first run before Lopes again singled to left for another RBI and the 6-0 lead.

Lopes led off the seventh with a single to center before the Wildcats put two runners on with a hot shot single off the glove of the third baseman by Rodriguez. After two outs were recorded in the inning, Frank Samluk stepped in and singled to left to score a run before Rodriguez came home to score on a strikeout wild pitch by Marciano, extending the inning.

With the 8-0 lead, Gambone responded with 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth innings, exiting the game after 108 pitches. He handed the ball over to Jarrett Shaffer who finished off the win in pitching the ninth inning. With the victory, Gambone improves to 9-1 on the season, lowering his earned run average to a Wildcat starter’s best 2.05 in 88 innings. The sophomore has a team high 66 strikeouts.

Lopes went a perfect 4-for-4 with a walk, knocking in two runners while scoring two runs as well. Rodriguez finished with two hits while Samluk went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. Both Rodriguez and Samluk collected one RBI and scored one run on the afternoon. Four other Wildcats finished with a base hit, rounding out the 12 total on the day.

Second seeding St. Thomas Aquinas is the first team eliminated from the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament, finishing their best season to date with a 39-14 record. The East Coast Conference Tournament Champions were making their first Regional appearance in program history.

No. 1 Wilmington moves on to play No. 3 New Haven on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Penmen Field. There are five teams remaining in the tournament after Friday’s action, with New Haven defeating Franklin Pierce, 3-1, in the afternoon contest.

Continue to follow the action LIVE at the tournament’s home page via the Southern New Hampshire University Athletic website: http://www.snhupenmen.com/sports/bsb/2012-13/NCAA/NCAAGameday.