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Another game was nearly lost in the eighth inning but Brandon Payne erased all doubts as he launched a walk-off three-run home run in bottom of the ninth, giving the No. 20 Wilmington University baseball team a 10-8 victory over Kutztown on Thursday afternoon at Wilson Field.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Wildcats (28-12 overall) as they used eight different pitchers and committed six errors, but came back after giving up three runs in the eighth to lose the lead.
Kutztown (24-9 overall) received 23 points in the latest NCBWA National Poll and proved it by scoring a run in the seventh and three in the eighth to come back from a 7-4 deficit.
Slightly overshadowed by Payne’s walk-off home run was Josh Hampton’s fifth inning double in the gap in left center. It was his 21st double of the season, setting a new mark for a single season in Wilmington program history, besting Mike Godwin’s best of 20 in the 2011 season.
After falling behind 3-0 before even coming to bat, the Wildcats retaliated with a five run second inning to take the lead. Kyle Lindstrom started the inning with a first pitch long ball into the trees in left field for his first home run of the year, putting the Wildcats on the board. Singles by Payne and Ryan Richards, followed by a walk form JR Gregory loaded the bases with only one out. Brendan Fallers was hit by a hitch for an RBI before Jordan Johnson and Hampton followed with RBI singles. Hampton’s was a two run single, ending the day for Golden Bear starter Jason Henderson.
Kutztown closed the score to 5-4 with a run in the fifth, but the Wildcats came back with two more in the sixth to widen their lead. With runners on first and second, Johnson again singled into the outfield, scoring pinch runner Jon Castro. Pinch hitter Sam Goines singled off the glove of the pitcher on a sharp comebacker, allowing Fallers to score for the 7-4 lead.
The Wildcats used three pitchers in the eighth inning, but the Golden Bears loaded the bases on the first three pitches of the inning, setting up for the comeback. Nick Marics came on and got a quick strikeout on three pitches, and induced a weak ground ball, but a throwing error trying to turn the double play ended in a run. Kutztown followed with a double for two more runs to take the lead, 8-7.
Brandon Shimo tossed a scoreless eighth inning for the Golden Bears, setting up the much needed ninth inning for the Wildcats.
Frank Samluk reached out and placed one into center to start the inning, putting the tying run on base. Two batters later, Lindstrom lined a pitch back to Shimo on the mound who was able to knock it down but scattered towards short and too far to make a play. Payne then stepped in and took a 1-0 pitch off the scoreboard in right field, homering for the second time in as many games.
Lindstrom led the team with a 3-for-5 effort, scoring twice while hitting his first home run as a Wildcat. Johnson, Payne and Hampton all collected two hits with Payne’s three-run round tripper leading them all.
Jarrett Shaffer improved to 3-0 after coming on and recording the final two outs in the top of the ninth. Shimo took the loss after tossing 1.2 innings for the visitors, falling to 4-2 on the year. Ray Gambone started and threw the first 6.1 innings for the Wildcats, striking out five while allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits in the no decision.
Wilmington will look to carry the momentum from Thursday’s game into Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference doubleheader on Saturday. The Wildcats host Nyack at Wilson Field with the first game scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. first pitch.
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - New Castle, DE