May 17, 2008

Around the Bases

Around the Tournaments - MEAC
Schabacker pitches Norfolk State past Delaware State


By Chuck Curti,

Special to


NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State pitcher Leon Schabacker has been the victim of some tough luck this year. Despite sporting an impressive ERA of 3.27, Schabacker came into Friday night’s MEAC elimination game against Delaware State sporting a 5-6 record.


Schabacker didn’t get much run support again. He didn’t need it.


Schabacker scattered six hits over nine innings and allowed only one run as the Spartans eliminated Delaware State, 5-1, at Marty L. Miller Field.


The victory sets up a meeting with Florida A&M Saturday at 10 a.m. The loser goes home, while the winner faces the loser of Saturday’s 2 p.m. meeting between Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T at 6 p.m.


It was the second strong pitching performance of the day for the Spartans. In the morning, NSU got a complete game from Jason Barker in a 7-2 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore.


“The pitching staff … we compete with each other, we keep each other up, talk to each other in the dugout,” said Schabacker. “This pitching staff is a family.”


Early on, it looked as though Schabacker would once again be the victim of minimal run support. In the top of the third, NSU finally dented the scoreboard on an RBI double by Chris Joyce.


Another run came across in the fifth. John Lynch led off with a popup into shallow left field, and it fell between three Delaware State players for a double. Lynch scored two batters later on a double by Brad Stephenson.


The score persisted at 2-0 into the seventh inning. But Schabacker insisted he wasn’t worrying about the Spartans’ offense.


“Every time I go out, I just try to pitch the best I can,” he said. “Once we got a couple of runs up there, I wasn’t going to let them get more than one.”


The Spartan offense did give Schabacker a bit of a cushion in the seventh inning. Stephenson drew a bases-loaded walk, and Joyce hit a sacrifice fly.


Prior to Joyce coming to the plate, Delaware State coach J.P. Blandin was ejected for arguing a check swing by NSU’s John Boyd that he felt should have been ruled a strike by the umpires. Blandin’s outburst seemed to inspire Delaware State briefly.


In the bottom of the seventh, Jose Sanchez reached on an error and later scored on Ryne Mailen’s single. But that would be it for the Hornets, and Norfolk State tacked on one more run for good measure in the eighth. Left fielder Lynch, who threw out DSU’s Justin Bittner as he tried to stretch a single into a double in the fourth, doubled home TiQuan Griffin.


“We’re up high now,” said Schabacker. “We’re back in this thing.”