May 23, 2008


Maliniak's slam leads W&M over top-seed UNCW


By Stuart Smith


WILMINGTON, N.C. – Greg Maliniak made his only hit of the game count, belting a grand slam in the seventh inning to lead #4 William & Mary to an 11-8 win over top-seeded UNC Wilmington in Game 5 of the 2008 Colonial Athletic Association Baseball Championship.

The Tribe advances to face Towson at 3:30 on Friday in an elimination game. UNC Wilmington will face the loser of the James Madison vs. George Mason game at Noon on Friday.

Maliniak finished with four RBI. Tribe First baseman Mike Sheridan went 3 for 4 with four RBI and scored two runs. Tim Park went 2 for 3 with a pair of solo home runs. Park also came around to score after a walk in the seventh inning.


UNC Wilmington was led by Mike Rooney, who went 2 for 2 with three RBI and a home run. Rhett Miller went 2 for 4 with one RBI.

UNC Wilmington started the scoring in the second inning off a pair of Jeremy Neustifter walks. Mike Rooney sacrificed the runners to second and third. Bobby Leeper singled to third base with Jes Snyder scoring on the play. Rhett Miller also came around to score after a throwing error by third baseman Tyler Stampone, making the score 2-0.

William & Mary answered in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by Park, his 13th of the season.

UNCW scored two more runs in the top of the third inning. A hit batter and two walks loaded the bases for the Seahawks. The Tribe went to the bullpen early, bringing Cody Winslow in to face Miller. Miller singled to centerfield, scoring Mark Carver. Rooney hit a sacrifice fly to the right fielder, plating Cody Stanley. Winslow got Leeper to strikeout to end the inning.

William & Mary pushed two more runs across the plate in the bottom of the third. James Williamson singled to start the inning and stole second. He advanced to third on a Paul Juliano sacrifice. Tyler Stampone doubled to left field, scoring Williamson. Mike Sheridan followed with a RBI double to right field, scoring Stampone, making the score 4-3 in favor of UNC Wilmington through three innings.

UNC Wilmington threatened again in the top of the fourth. The Seahawks had runners on first and second with two outs when Nate Hall sent a long fly ball to left field. Maliniak made a leaping catch at the wall to record the out and hold both runners. Winslow got Stanley to line out to end the inning.

UNCW’s bats came alive in the fifth inning with Miller getting a one-out single. Pete Vernon came in to pitch for Winslow and gave up a two-run home run to Rooney, the first batter he faced. After a walk to Leeper, Daniel Hargrave singled through the left side, sending Leeper to second. Sean Grieve replaced Vernon after only three batters. Grieve walked back-to-back batters, plating Leeper. A Nate Hall sac fly to centerfield scored Hargrave, putting the Seahawks ahead 8-3.

William & Mary’s Ben Guez struck out to start the bottom of the sixth inning, but Sheridan and Park belted back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to pull the Tribe within three. It was Park’s second homer of the day and 14th on the season.

The Tribe started the seventh inning with a Lanny Stanfield single to right field. Williamson popped up to the second baseman for the first out. Stanfield advanced to second on a wild pitch to Jeff Jones, who came in to pinch hit for Juliano. Jones walked, putting runners on first and second for Stampone, who flew out to right field. Ben Guez walked, loading the bases for Mike Sheridan. He laced a two-run single to centerfield, plating Jones and Stanfied. The Seahawks went to the bullpen, calling on freshman Stephen Harrold. The right-hander walked Park to load the bases for Maliniak. The left fielder sent a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left field, putting the Tribe ahead 11-8, a lead they would never relinquish.

UNCW tried to rally in the eighth behind a one-out single by Nate Hall. Stanley was up next and struck out. Hall was on the move on the pitch and Park threw him out at second base to complete the double play.

The Seahawks last chance to cut into the lead came in the top of the ninth inning. Snyder popped up to the second baseman Williamson for the first out. Miller reached on a Williamson error to give the Seahawks a baserunner. Miller advanced to second on a Rooney walk. Pat Kantakevich came out of the bullpen to try to close the game for the Tribe. Alex Hill came in to pinch hit for Leeper and drew a walk to load the bases. Kantakevich settled down and got Hargrave to fly out to centerfield for the second out. He got Jason Appel to pop up to the shortstop for the final out of the game.

”Today says a lot about how we prepared. The mood was good, we had good energy,” said Tribe head coach Frank Leoni. ”Our approach at the plate with two strikes was good tonight. We just try to put the ball in play and it worked today.”

“We knew it was going to be an offensive day. We had opportunities throughout the course of the day, but we turned those opportunities back in their favor with some walks later in the game. We have to be ready to go back out there tomorrow. That’s our task now. We don’t have any choice,” said UNCW head coach Mark Scalf.

Grieve pitched four scoreless innings for the Tribe, allowing only two hits and striking out three to pick up the win.

Kantakevich earned his school-record tenth save, tying for best in the CAA.