CNU Comeback Denied at #12 Shenandoah, 8-7

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WINCHESTER, Va. -- The third-ranked Christopher Newport Captains (25-5, 9-3) trailed 8-1 in the seventh inning today, against 12th ranked Shenandoah University, but the Hornets had to hold off a torrid rally as CNU scored six runs late falling just shy of the comeback bid. Shenandoah won, 8-7, ending the Captains' longest win streak of the year at nine.

The home team scored four runs in the first inning, racing out to a big lead early. The Hornets offense jumped on CNU starter Jacob Vaughan, peppering the righty with three singles and a three-run home run in the inning. Nick Beall had the big blast for Shenandoah.

Senior first baseman Steven Keener hit a solo shot in the second inning for the Captains, but Shenandoah added two more in the third to open up a 6-1 lead.

CNU trailed 8-1 headed into the final three innings when junior lefty Matt Verdillo took over on the hill. The Captains setup man allowed just two baserunners and struck out five over three innings of work while keeping the Hornets off the board.

Offensively, the CNU bats started to come around, scoring on a sacrifice fly in the seventh and on a throwing error in the eighth. The Captains still trailed 8-3 in the ninth and the first two batters were retired quickly. With two outs, though, CNU rallied.

Senior Shannon Mark walked, followed by an infield single by Billy Steel. Left fielder Connor Madden singled home a run through the right side and Luke Saunders added an RBI single to right field. A third straight single plated a third run, when Matt Shoemaker hit a shot through the left side. After a walk by Steven Lindemuth, to load the bases, Keener stepped in and took his nationwide-leading 19th hit-by-pitch to pull the Captains within one, 8-7.

Coach Kevin Anderson switched pitchers, bringing in Jeff Stanek to finish off the save. He got a strikeout against the only batter he faced, sealing the win for Shenandoah. It was Anderson's 400th career victory for the Hornets.

CNU will have one more tune-up before next week's USA South Conference Tournament, where the Captains will be the top seed. CNU will face Bridgewater at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 9th on the road.