Packert Strikes Out Career-High 13 as No. 10/13 CNU Baseball Cruises to Win Over Salisbury, 10-3

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Behind a career-high 13 strikeouts from sophomore starter Thomas Packert (4-0), the nationally-ranked Christopher Newport baseball team pulled away for a 10-3 win in their 2018 Capital Athletic Conference opener against Salisbury University (9-5, 0-1). Packert and sophomore reliever Brian Owens struck out a season-high-tying 16 batters as CNU improved to 16-4 overall and 1-0 in CAC action.

While Packert handled the bulk of the pitching, the Captains' offense continues to fire on all cylinders with 10 runs on 13 hits. Nicholas Baham led the way with a 4-for-5 effort, driving in a pair and scoring twice. Sophomore Nick DiNapoli continued his stellar start to the year by going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and 1 run scored. 

CNU took a 5-0 lead before Salisbury closed to within two at 5-3. A five-run seventh inning gave the Captains some insurance as they pulled away for the win, their eighth straight on the season. 

Packert worked around a pair of singles in the first by striking out the side as he kicked off the game with deadly accurate pitching. He did not miss the zone until the fifth batter and put 12 of his 13 first-inning pitches on frame. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches, gave up back-to-back singles before striking out Jay Perry and Simon Palenchar to end the inning.
After stranding a runner on third with only one out, momentum swung heavily in Packert's favor. Over the next 4.2 innings he would face only one batter more than the minimum, with perfect second, fourth, and fifth innings. By the end of the fifth, he had matched his career high with 10 strikeouts while shutting down the dangerous Salisbury lineup, retiring 14 of 15 straight batters.
In support of their starting pitcher, the Captains scored three runs in the bottom of the third and two more in the fifth. First, with two outs in the third inning, Jordan Mason singled and the inning was extended when Conner Clark reached on an error. Taking advantage of the miscue, the Captains loaded the bases on a walk by Seth Woodard, and senior DH Brandon Ginch delivered a two-run single into right field. Next up, junior Nicholas Baham slammed a single into center and plated Woodard for the third run of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, CNU tacked on a couple more after a lead-off double by Clark set the table. The Captains again scored both runs with two outs in the inning when Baham singled home the first run and Nick DiNapoli found outfield grass with a looper just over the second baseman's head to plate another.
Packert ran into some trouble in the sixth when the first three batters reached on singles to get the Sea Gulls on the board. Jack Barry delivered the first run with an RBI single into right center. The Captains' right-hander struck out the next two batters, but an RBI single by Scott Ardoin kept the inning going. An error extended the inning, scoring an unearned run, and Packert closed out the frame by striking out the side with his third K of the sixth inning.
CNU sent their sophomore arm back to the mound in inning number seven and he made quick work of the Gulls to complete his day with an impressive line. He tossed 7.0 innings and struck out a career-high 13 batters. Packert scattered six singles and allowed three runs, two earned, with just one walk. 
In the bottom half of the seventh, Seth Woodard stepped in and delivered a monstrous lead-off home run for his second round-tripper of the season. A mammoth highlight reel shot to left field cleared the wall and caromed off the softball press box well beyond the boundaries of Captains Park. 
That dinger triggered a five-run inning for the Captains, who would send all nine batters to the plate in the frame. After Woodard's home run, Baham would single into center and Johnson followed with a walk. A double by DiNapoli into the right field corner would plate the next run, sending catcher Ryan Grubbs to the plate with two in scoring position and drawing in the Salisbury infield. Grubbs smashed the first pitch he saw just inside the third-base bag for a two-run double. After Austin Henry reached on a hit-by-pitch, Jordan Mason drove in the Captains' final run of the day with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Out of the bullpen, sophomore Brian Owens relieved Packert and put together a dominant inning against the Sea Gulls. Facing the heart of the order, Owens retired the side in order, striking out Barry, Perry, and pinch-hitter Dillon Waters for a 1-2-3 eighth. In the ninth, he worked around a one-out double to close out the win with two clean innings of relief.

The Captains will turn around to play two more on Saturday, facing St. Mary's (Md.) in a CAC doubleheader set to begin at Noon. Live stats and video will be available at