Junior Michael Thomas Throws Complete Game Shutout to Lead No. 14 CNU to 7-0 Win at Bridgewater

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BRIDGEWATER, Va. -- Making his first start of 2016, junior Michael Thomas (2-0) was dealing from start to finish on Thursday afternoon, leading the 14th-ranked Christopher Newport Captains (16-5) to a 7-0 victory at Bridgewater College (13-9) in non-conference action. Thomas registered a career-best performance with a three-hit complete game shutout over the Eagles, while striking out a career high seven batters.

It was the first time in just over two years a Christopher Newport pitcher went the distance while blanking their opponent. The last complete game shutout for a CNU arm was tossed by Bryan Bierlein on March 22, 2014 with four hits allowed at Penn State Harrisburg. On Thursday, Thomas was incredibly efficient, keeping the game under two hours while cruising through just 30 batters in 95 pitches. He avoided a three-ball count all day until the final batter, who he struck out with his final pitch, and managed a four-pitch 4th inning and a six-pitch 7th inning.

He paired his career best performance in strikeouts with zero free passes, keeping the Eagles off balance all day. He faced just three batters in six of his nine innings of work, including finishing strong with a minimum nine batters faced in the final three innings.  All three of his hits allowed went for singles. 

Thomas, a junior lefty from Fairfax, Va., was making his first start of 2016 and just his fifth career start. Usually working out of the pen, Thomas' career-high in innings prior to Thursday's start was 5.0 as a freshman, and he had never struck out more than five batters. Against the Eagles, Thomas finished with a line of 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 7 K, 0 BB. 

In support of the terrific start, the Captains' offense continued to surge, scoring seven runs or more for the fifth straight game. A 5-run fourth inning would be more than enough for Thomas, as CNU jumped ahead in the middle innings. A.J. Nicely started the inning with an infield single and moved up to third on a wild pitch and passed ball. Tommy Vitaletti also moved into scoring position on the passed ball after being hit by a pitch. With two in scoring position, Brandon Ginch delivered a two-run single up the middle to open the scoring. Keith Roberts reached on a bunt single, and Ginch came around to score as the middle of the lineup continued to produce on an RBI double down the left field line by Connor Henderson.  Rounding out a run of six straight Captains reaching base, senior Kyle Corwin pounded a single into left field to plate two more runs as CNU took a 5-0 lead. 

CNU tacked on one run in each the 8th and 9th innings. First, Corwin picked up his third RBI of the day with a single through the right side to plate Ginch in the 8th; in the 9th, Vitaletti drove in a run with a groundout to the right side, plating Jordan Mason. 

Nicely and Corwin led the offense with multi-hit performances as Nicely finished 3-for-5 while Corwin added a 2-for-4 effort. Ginch drove in a pair and scored twice. For Bridgewater, Kenner Berry led the Eagles by going 2-for-3, while Garrison Wright added the third hit against Thomas. 

The Captains return to action on Saturday, March 26, hosting Marymount University in a pivotal CAC doubleheader, starting at Noon.