Rookie Walsh Leads #3 CNU Past Apprentice School, 5-3

More news about: Christopher Newport

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Freshman left-hander James Walsh did not shy away from his first collegiate start, instead pitching six strong innings without allowing an earned run to lead the third-ranked CNU Captains (23-4) to their seventh straight win. Walsh struck out eight en route to his first career win as Christopher Newport beat Newport News Apprentice (17-12) in a 5-3 final.

With games in four straight days, Captains head coach called on Walsh, who had made five relief appearances this season, to start his first game against the Apprentice School. He worked himself out of a first-inning jam, getting designated hitter Travis Franklin to ground into an inning-ending double play. After that, Walsh settled in nicely, allowing just three singles over the next four innings.

The Captains put three runs on the board in the third inning to give Walsh the lead. Sophomore Billy Steel singled to lead off and stole second base. After a walk by Connor Madden and a sacrifice bunt from Luke Saunders, senior second baseman Matt Shoemaker singled home Steel. Later in the inning, first baseman Steven Keener laced a two-RBI single into right center field.

The Builders pulled within one with a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning, scoring twice against Walsh. After a pair of strikeouts to start the inning, Apprentice had back-to-back singles from Devorn Lake and Franklin. Both would come around to score on a pair of errors in the frame.

CNU answered with one in the bottom half, when Shannon Mark had an RBI single to plate Keener. The Captains bullpen was strong in relief of the freshman starter, as Jordan Boze and Richard Lindsay combined for two scoreless innings setting up a save opportunity.

In the ninth, the Captains called on junior closer Ryan Fleischmann with a 5-2 lead. A lead-off double set up a run scored against Fleischmann, as Apprentice is just the third team to score against the Captains closer all season. He got a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to seal the save, though, his sixth of the year. 

Keener led the offense, going 1-for-2 with two runs and two RBI, while Shoemaker added a run scored and RBI on the day.  The Apprentice School outhit the Captains, 11-6, with multi-hit days from Lake, Ryan Hendrickson and Chris Perry.

CNU heads out on the road for four straight, with a 3:00 pm game at Randolph-Macon on Thursday. The Captains will then travel to Shenandoah University for the final conference set on Friday and Saturday.