Christopher Newport Drops 5-4 Decision to Eastern Mennonite in Non-Conference Action

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NEWPORT NEWS,  Va. -- The Eastern Mennonite Royals stunned the Captains on Tuesday afternoon, taking advantage of key mistakes to capture a 5-4 win in non-conference play. Christopher Newport smacked six extra-base hits and held the Royals without an earned run over the final five innings, but could not complete a comeback with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning. 

CNU got the game-tying run to third base with just one out in the final frame, but a wild ending favored the visitors at Captains Park. In a 5-4 game with just two outs remaining, rookie Conner Clark walked and promptly stole second base. Now with a runner in scoring position, the Captains got a walk from Seth Woodard to force Eastern Mennonite to call on senior closer Tristan Childress. Childress struggled to find the zone against each batter he faced, walking Nicholas Baham on four straight pitches, including a wild pitch, and falling behind Craig Johnson before earning a key strikeout. With CNU down to their final out, the game would be decided on a play at the plate. 

Childress contrinued to struggle, bouncing one off the catcher just left of the plate to tempt Clark to race home, but he tracked back to third. On the very next pitch, though, the ball squirted away to the right behind catcher Brendon Salladay and Clark sprinted toward the plate. Salladay collected and fired to Childress, who made the tag and ended the game. 

The Captains fell to 8-3 overall while Eastern Mennonite improved to 7-4. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Captains, who return to action on Wednesday at 2:30 pm against 23rd-ranked Randolph-Macon College. 

CNU took a brief 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second before a two-run home run gave the Royals the lead in the top of the third. The Captains knotted it up in the bottom half, but a two-run error proved costly in the top of the fourth as the Royals took the lead for good. 

Bailey Hall (2-1) captured the win after pitching into the seventh inning for the Royals, and Tristan Childress gathered his first save with a two-out relief effort in the ninth. CNU senior Ryan Powell (2-2) suffered the loss after allowing four runs in 4.0 innings of work, striking out a pair. 

Six of CNU's eight hits went for extra-bases and one more was taken off the board. In a one-run game, the Captains would potentially have been tied were it not for a baserunning mistake in the bottom of the fourth inning when Brandon Ginch smashed a solo home run to lead off the inning, but was then called out on an appeal that he failed to touch first base. 

Earlier in the contest, a throwing error by Powell on a sacrifice bunt attempt scored a pair of Royals to take the lead. The senior right-hander got out of the inning without any further damage, inducing a groundball to short and an inning-ending double play to third base, but Eastern Mennonite capitalized on the mistake. 

In relief of Powell, four Captains finished five innings without an earned run. Austin Slough struck out three batters in 2.0 innings with just one run one two hits allowed. Then, out of the pen came rookie Nathan Clements, who struck out a pair in the 7th, followed by two perfect innings by Brian Owens and Joe Burris. Owens has now retired 20 straight batters with 16 strikeouts in that stretch.  

Brandon Walker was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI double, while second baseman J.T. Bellotti added a 2-for-4 effort with an RBI double as well. 

The Captains will return to action on Wednesday to take on No. 23 Randolph-Macon at 2:30 pm. That game was originally scheduled for Thursday, but has been moved up due to the threat of rain on Thursday.