Around the Bases
stretches win streak to 19
By Phil Stanton
Va. – When you have a long win streak, little things go your
way. A pitcher makes a diving catch to start a double play to
end an inning. A freshman with a batting average of .111 gets a
pinch-hit to drive in the go-ahead run. A pickoff eliminates the
potential game-winning run in the ninth.
Such is the success of the UNC Wilmington
UNCW stretched its school-record win streak to
19, the longest in Division I and in the history of the Colonial
Athletic Association, as the Seahawks registered a 3-2 victory
over Virginia Commonwealth University Saturday afternoon at The
The Seahawks (11-0, 20-4) won a lopsided 17-4
game on Friday in the series opener, but Saturday’s contest was
close until the end.
The Rams (0-7, 5-18) tied the game at 2-2 in the
bottom of the seventh as Justin Wright led off with a single,
was sacrificed to second by Joe Van Meter and came home on a
base hit by Eric Curtis, chasing UNCW starter Bradley Holt.
Freshman lefty Cameron Roth came in and walked pinch-hitter Kwan
Evans. Matt Leskiw hit a short popup between the plate and the
mound on which Roth made a diving catch. He got up and fired to
second, doubling up Curtis to end the inning.
With that momentum, the Seahawks (11-0, 20-4)
rallied in the top of the eighth. Jes Snyder had a one-out
single and was replaced by pinch-runner Matt Holt, who moved to
second when Mike Rooney was hit by a pitch. UNCW head coach Mark
Scalf sent left-handed hitting Alex Hill to the plate to
pinch-hit against Rams’ right-hander Jesse Reid. VCU skipper
Paul Keyes went to the bullpen and summoned lefty Aaron Morgan.
Scalf countered with freshman David Shambley as hit
pinch-hitter. Shambley had one hit in nine at-bats and had yet
to drive in a run. On a 1-1 pitch, he single to right to plate
Holt with eventual game-winner.
“David’s been swinging the bat well in BP,” Scalf
said, “and he was our DH the first two games of the year because
he was swinging the bat well early Then he got into a little bit
of a slump and wasn’t swinging it. He’s been swinging it well
and we feel comfortable with him in the box. He was excited and
prepared to go. We tried not to give him a whole lot of time to
think about it, bringing him out of the bullpen straight down
here to hit. But it’s important that some of our young guys are
able to step up and put good swings on it for us.”
Senior third baseman Nate Hall was responsible
for the first two UNCW runs. He had a sacrifice fly in the first
and an RBI double with two outs in the fifth.
“I got a fastball I could handle,” Hall said of
his double. “Coach Scalf told me to stay through it because I
was popping them up. I got on top of that one a little bit more
and got a hit.”
VCU fought back and looked to end the streak in
the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Nate Furry started the
inning with a base hit and was replaced by pinch-runner Ryan
Caldwell. Roth recorded a strikeout before picking off Caldwell
for the second out. Two more singles signaled the end of the day
for Roth, bringing on freshman right-hander Stephen Harrold.
Leskiw walked to load the bases before Richard Gonzalez flew out
to center to give Harrold his third save.
Hall batted .265 a year ago in 51 games with 17
RBI after transferring to UNCW from Pensacola Junior College.
This season, Hall is hitting over .350 and has knocked in 30 in
“Last year, I was putting a lot of pressure on
myself,” Hall said. “After transferring in, I felt like I had to
do a lot. We’ve got such a great [lineup] one, two, all the way
to nine There’s no pressure. If I don’t get it done, I know that
my teammates will get it done.”
So after a 1-4 start, what has been the key to a
19-game win streak?
“Fun,” Hall said. “We have fun. Everybody’s
playing loose. We want to get to the ballpark every day and come
out here and compete and win. That’s the main thing, fun. We
have fun out here.”
And with winning comes confidence.
“I think the biggest thing is that the players
have begun to believe in one another,” Scalf said. “They’ve
begun to trust their abilities and that’s probably gotten us by
on four or five occasions during this streak. We’ve had
opportunities to give a ballgame away or lose a game and guys
have continued to believe in their abilities and have been able
to make pitches or make plays or get a big two-out hit to drive
a run in to win a ballgame.”
The Seahawks and Rams will play the series finale
on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.