Shore on Both Ends of One-Run Games with Coppin
Hawks Fall Behind Early in 11-12 Loss, Get Quick Lead in 7-6 Win
COLUMBIA, Maryland – After a marathon win the day before against Coppin State University, the Maryland Eastern Shore baseball team split a doubleheader with the Eagles on Saturday (April 2) to move to 7-18 overall, 6-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Derrick Rabb Jr. (1-3) took the loss in game one with Ryan Davis throwing 100 pitches in relief, while Noah Covington (3-3) threw his third complete game of the season in game two. The doubleheader kept the Hawks at an even pace with the Eagles in the MEAC, both teams sitting tied for first.
“These tight games are hard to win, especially when you’re playing at their ballpark,” head coach Brian Hollamon said.
Things seemed to jump out to a good start for the Hawks in game one when Andrew Revels led off the game with a single to left and was driven in two batters later when Ryan Howe stayed hot with a double to left.
The Eagles didn’t take long to respond though, with leadoff batter Wellington Balsley taking a four-pitch walk and reaching second on defensive interference by first baseman Marcus Brown. Balsley made it to third on a groundout and scored when the next batter, Jordan Hamberg, singled to left on the first pitch he saw. Struggling to find the strike zone of the umpire, Rabb loaded the bases and walked in the second unearned run of the inning four batters later.
“I thought Derrick Rabb, in the beginning, was throwing the ball well, but everything was (called) a ball,” Hollamon said.
Coppin had an even bigger inning in second, driving five runs in during the frame and chasing Rabb from the game after only 1.1 innings pitched, bringing in Davis for the start of a long relief appearance. Davis was able to get out of the inning with two more Eagles scoring, inheriting runners on the corners, but much of the damage was done with the Hawks down 1-7.
“We only got to the second inning with Rabb, this was kind of (Davis’) start,” Hollamon said. “I knew where he was going to be. He has a sense of calm, and he throws the ball in the zone, he allowed us to get back into the game.”
In the third, the Hawks were able to grab a run back when Brantley Cutler hit a two-run single with the bases loaded on a 1-1 count to make it 3-7. Coppin made up for those runs in the bottom of the inning when Hamberg got things going with a triple to right-center, being driven in on a soft single to Davis by Sebastien Sarabia. Sarabia then scored on a Corey Miley double to left.
A throwing error from Kyle Cincinnati on a steal attempt by Josh Hankins at third would have Hankins reaching home to make it 3-10 in the fourth.
Making wholesale changes, seven position players were swapped out, in the sixth provided a hard spark for the Hawks. Jason Brown led off the inning with his first collegiate single and then promptly stole second base, Gabe Williams took a walk in his second collegiate plate appearance and young defensive specialist Luke Myers would drive in Brown on a hard-hit single. Eric Hampton then came to bat and had his first collegiate hit, a two-run double to left, making it 6-10.
Anders Brown kept the hits with a single, putting Hampton on third and both advanced on a passed ball, scoring Hampton. Howe hit yet another RBI with a single to score Brown, bringing the game within two at 8-10.
“Our starters struggled, I’m not sure why,” Hollamon said. “Changed the whole team, replaced everybody and our guys started lighting it up. We weren’t getting much production from the starters so we went with guys that were on the bench and they did a great job.”
Coppin was able to secure some insurance runs in the sixth as Davis began to run out of gas and John Killmon came in with a runner on. Mario Cuevas was able to score when he was walked in, and Hamberg as well.
With the last call in the top of the seventh, the Hawks were able to grab three more runs, but it wouldn’t be enough to seal a win or put the game into extras, falling just one short. Riley Horner found the outfield grass for a two-run single to score Williams and Myers, followed by Cutler hitting a single to drive in Hampton.
Reeling from their game one loss, the Hawks took no time at all to get runs on the board against Coppin. Revels and Dillon Oxyer both reached on walks to start the first, then a sacrifice bunt by Bryan Widdowson drove in Revels from third. Howe kept hitting, this time with a single to left, driving in Widdowson and Oxyer to make it 3-0 just four batters into the game. Marcus Brown then tacked on a run when he hit into a double play but put Howe across home plate.
“We’re starting to score some runs with guys in scoring position,” Hollamon said.
Nick Roets and Oxyer were able to tack on three in the fourth, Roets with an RBI single up the gut to score Cutler and then Oxyer scoring Jason Brown and Roets who were waiting on base.
“Offensively I thought we did a great job in the first inning,” Hollamon said. “Sometimes guys press but I don’t think they were pressing today, they were nice, easy, relaxed.”
Covington was in lockdown for much of the game, allowing just a single hit and facing the minimum through five innings of work when the Hawks had established a 7-0 lead.
Falling victim to the long ball in the bottom of the sixth, Covington found himself in a bit of trouble. Eagles catcher Landen Argabright hit a pinch-hit home run to start the inning. An error would put Balsley across the plate, then three batters later Hamberg kept with his strong day hitting a homer over right and Sarabia chipped in with a solo shot himself to bring the game within one for the home squad.
There was no lack of confidence from Hollamon in his starter in the seventh though, keeping Covington on the mound to close out the game. The Seaford native struck out two in the frame with some extra juice, only having one other K in the game, then forced his 15th groundout to close it all out, taking home the win.
“Noah was in total control, did a great job for five innings,” Hollamon said. “The sixth inning was a bit of a struggle – I think it was just a lack of focus in that inning and then in the seventh, he did an outstanding job.”
The Hawks close out the series on Sunday (April 3) with a brunch game, playing Coppin in game four at 10 a.m., the earliest on the schedule this season. If the Shore is able to take the win they will be in sole possession of the first place in the MEAC.
“I’m looking for us to pick up the third win, I think we’re capable of making that happen,” Hollamon said. “When we go into the weekend, we anticipate winning all four, it’s time to pick up more than just two.”
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