Norfolk, Va. (May 19, 2012) --- Delaware State has reached the MEAC Baseball Tournament championship round for the first time since 2004 after a 7-2 win over UMES at Marty Miller Field this evening.
The Hornets will face defending champ Bethune-Cookman for the championship beginning Sunday at 9:00 a.m. The Wildcats are only team without a tournament loss, meaning DSU must win two on Sunday to claim its first MEAC title since 1989.
The championship round start time was moved up due to the forecast for rain in the Norfolk area on Sunday.
In the win over UMES, freshman Bobby Brown (2-1) threw 7.2 innings to earn the win for the Hornets. The former Dover (Del.) High School star allowed two runs (one earned) on 11 hits.
Tommy Dill pitched 1.2 innings of relief for the Hornets.
Tony Gatto was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, while Ryan Haas, Aaron Nardone and DJ Miller also had two hits for the Hornets.
Earlier Saturday, the Hornets defeated North Carolina A&T 4-2 to stay alive in the tournament.
"I had no doubt that our kids would give a great effort today," said Delaware State head coach J.P. Blandin, who has led the Hornets to a 39-16-1 overall record this season. "We have such a scrappy group of kids, led by our seniors (Troy) Drummond, (Tony) Gatto and (Scott) Davis."
The 39 wins are one shy of the Hornets' team record set by the 2002 team (40-19).
"I really can't say enough about the effort by Bobby Brown," Blandin said of his freshman pitcher. "He really stepped up and gave us some much needed innings."
Delaware State opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first inning.
Davis drew a one out walk to start the rally. He moved to second on a balk by UMES starter James Smith (0-6) and scored on a two-out single by Haas.
The Hornets stretched their lead to 2-0 when Frey led off the second inning with a single and later scored on a one-out base hit by Gatto.
DSU scored two runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Nardone had a run-scoring single and Gatto singled in his second run of the game in the inning.
UMES scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to cut the Hornets' lead to 4-2.
The Hornets tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth. The first run crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Troy Drummond and the second scored on a UMES error.
A two-out single by Cameron Cecil scored Miller with DSU's final run in the eighth.
Bethune-Cookman is seeking its seventh straight MEAC baseball title. The Hornets fell to the Wildcats in their last MEAC championship appearance in 2004.
Delaware State has played five tournament games this weekend, while Bethune-Cookman will be playing its fourth on Sunday.
"There are no excuses for our team," Blandin said. "Our goal is to win a championship; and I promise our kids will fight to the last out on Sunday."