WINCHESTER, Va. - No. 3/3 Christopher Newport University claimed the 2012 USA South Conference regular season baseball championship with a 6-3 victory over No. 12/18 Shenandoah University Friday evening.
Christopher Newport (25-4, 9-2 USA South) claims the crown and accompanying No. 1 seed at next week's USA South Conference Tournament by rallying for the victory over Shenandoah (21-9, 7-4).
The Hornets took the early lead with one run in the first, and after CNU tied it with a single run in the third, retook the advantage by scoring two times in their half of the third.
Senior Jake Pendergraft figured in two of the host's three runs, plating Joey Donofrio in the first with a groundout and bringing Kurt Krout home in the third with a sacrifice fly to right.
Two batters prior to Pendergraft's sac fly in the gap, Krout had a triple to right to score Donofrio.
Donofrio singled in the first and doubled in the third.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, CNU starter Greg Goldsmith (5-1) settled in after the third.
Goldsmith, who allowed three hits in the first three innings, pitched to no more than four batters in any inning from the third through the seventh.
Leaving after seven, Goldsmith scattered seven hits and struck out two against three walks.
Shenandoah left runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings and had a runner cut down at the plate in the fourth.
Junior Vince Claudio (5-1) struck out eight in 5 1/3 for the Hornets. He gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks.
With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, SU skipper Kevin Anderson turned to Adam Emerson, and the freshman nearly snuffed out what turned into a three-run frame by getting a strikeout looking for the second out.
Connor Madden then had a single back up the middle to plate two and give the Captains a three-run lead.
Emerson was outstanding in the seventh, eighth and ninth, striking out two in the seventh and eighth and one in the ninth.
He finished with eight strikeouts and allowed just two singles.
Shenandoah loaded the bases in the eighth, but Captains reliever struck out freshman pinch hitter Greg Beran on a 3-2 pitch to get out of trouble.
Matt Verdillo and Ryan Fleischmann combined to pitch the ninth, with Fleischmann getting the final two outs to post his seventh save of the spring.
These two teams complete their series tomorrow with a 1:00 contest.