BURLINGTON, N.C. – Top-seeded Christopher Newport (27-6) used a five-run second inning to power past fourth-seeded Methodist University (20-17) today, in the 2012 USA South Conference Baseball Tournament. CNU won, 7-4, holding on to win and advance to play 12th ranked Shenandoah University at Noon on Saturday.
The Monarchs will play at 3:30 pm on Saturday, against the winner of the Averett/N.C. Wesleyan game being played Friday at 5:00 pm.
CNU got behind starter Jacob Vaughan early in the game, sporting him a 5-run lead after two innings. In the second, the Captains chased Methodist starter Andrew Womble with a big inning, scoring five runs on four hits in the frame.
With one out, Steven Keener doubled and Ben Lenda singled to set up runners at the corners for designated hitter Chris McDougal. He hit a fly ball deep to left, plating the first run of the game on a sac fly. After a Shannon Mark walk, sophomore shortstop hit a two-out two-RBI triple to right field to ignite the rally. The next batter, Connor Madden, stroked a single through the right side for an RBI getting Womble the hook.
Reliever Josh Ayers struggled with his command in the inning, hitting the first batter he faced and then giving up back-to-back walks to score the fifth run for CNU when Steven Lindemuth took the free pass. Ayers settled in after that, scattering six hits over five innings of strong relief.
The two teams traded runs in the third, when Chris Power had an RBI groundout for the Monarchs and Lenda blasted a long home run to left for CNU. MU added one in the fifth and two more in the eighth to close the lead to 7-4, setting up a save situation for CNU.
Things got interesting in the ninth, as the Captains called on one of the nation's leaders in saves, Ryan Fleischmann. The CNU junior was a First Team All-Conference pick and converted a league-leading seven saves coming into the game. Methodist got a leadoff single, and after a strikeout, walked a pair to load the bases against the Captains stopper.
Fleischmann stepped up, though, striking out Cody Molosky and getting a groundout to the shortstop by David Lutz to hold onto the 7-4 win and pick up his eighth save of the year. Vaughan picked up the win, after seven innings and giving up just two earned runs. He struck out four.
Trey Such was 3-4 for Methodist and Tyler Younger was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. The Captains was led by Steel and Madden, each going 3-4 in the game. Steel drove in a pair and scored once, while Lenda had three runs scored an RBI for CNU. Lenda is 5-8 so far in the tournament, with two HR, five runs scored and three RBI.
The Captains will take on Shenandoah in Saturday's first game, with first pitch scheduled for Noon. The two teams will be playing their third game against eachother in eight days after splitting the regular season series last weekend. Methodist will play in an elimination game at 3:30 pm against the winner of tonight's Averett and N.C. Wesleyan matchup.