Norfolk, Va. (May 17, 2012) --- Delaware State collected 12 hits and took advantage of several Savannah State miscues to earn a 10-8 victory over the Tigers in the opening round of the MEAC Tournament at Marty Miller Field this afternoon.
The Hornets will take on UMES in a second round game on Friday at 12:30 p.m.
Delaware State led 10-2 before the Tigers scored four runs in the seventh inning and two in the ninth.
The win also marked the 300th career victory for Delaware State head coach J.P. Blandin, who was selected as the 2012 MEAC Coach-of-the-Year after leading the Hornets to the league's North Division championship this season.
"We were expecting a very tough game from Savannah State; and fortunately we were able to score early and hold on to advance to the second round," said Blandin. "We seemed to lose a bit of momentum after opening up the big lead, but the Tigers deserve credit for playing hard till the final out. We're happy with the win, but there's plenty of work to do to achieve our goal of winning this tournament."
Delaware State took advantage of some sloppy play by Savannah State and the long ball to take the early lead.
Troy Drummond singled to lead off the bottom of the first inning for DSU. Scott Davis reached base on an error to give the Hornets runners at second and first. After a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Cecil, Ryan Haas drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
Savannah State starter Kyle McGowin made a wild pickoff attempt to first base, allowing Drummond and Davis to score, giving the Hornets a 2-0 lead. The bases were empty when Eddie Sorondo smacked his first homer of the season over the left field fence to give DSU's a 3-0 first inning lead.
Delaware State starter Jordan Elliott was rolling along through four innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five.
Savannah State took advantage of a couple of breaks provided by the Hornets to score two runs in the fifth. The Tigers had a runner on first with one out when Ian Farris was credited with a double on a ball that fell between Drummond and fellow DSU outfielder Aaron Nardone in left center. The next batter, Todd Hagen, hit a ball over the head of Nardone, who slipped on the wet left field grass while attempting to catch the ball. Two runners scored on the play, cutting the Hornets' lead to 3-2.
Delaware State answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain a three-run lead.
Tony Gatto singled to lead off the inning. After an out, Gatto advanced to second on a wild pitch. A walk to Drummond put runners on second and first. There were two out when Cameron Cecil singled up the middle to score Gatto and give the Hornets a 4-2 lead. Haas followed with a single to score Drummond from second with DSU's fifth run.
Delaware State gave itself some breathing room after scoring five runs in the sixth.
JP Frey singled to lead off the inning. After an out, Gatto and Peter Broehl each singled to load the bases. Drummond then hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped by Savannah State's Peter Poole, allowing Frey to score. Davis followed with a single to left, scoring Gatto and Broehl to give the Hornets an 8-2 lead. DSU opened up a 10-2 lead when Drummond and Davis each scored on wild pitches in the inning.
Savannah State responded with four runs off Elliott in the top of the seventh inning to pull back into the game. The Tigers trailed 10-6 with two outs and a runner on second when Blandin called Derek Marshalsea out of the bullpen.
Marshalsea recorded the final out of the inning on a fly ball to Gatto in right. He also kept Savannah State off the board in the eighth.
Delaware State held a 10-6 lead heading into the ninth inning. After retiring the first batter in the ninth, Marshalsea surrendered a walk and a double to put runners on second and third. Savannah State's Matt Oglesby followed with a two-run single to cut the Hornets' lead to 10-8.
Marshalsea retired the next batter on a fielder's choice and struck out pinch hitter Dychal Bowles to end the game.
Elliott (10-2) allowed six hits and six runs, while striking out seven, in 6.2 innings to earn the win. Marshalsea allowed two runs, while striking out two, in 2.1 innings of relief.
Gatto led the Hornets with three hits, while Frey and Haas collected two each.
Delaware State has won its MEAC Tournament opener for the second straight year.
The Hornets posted a 7-2 record against UMES during the 2012 regular season. The winner of Friday's e Delaware State/UMES second round game will play either defending champ Bethune-Cookman or Norfolk State on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. The winner of that contest will advance to Sunday's championship round.
Prior to the game, Haas was honored as the 2012 MEAC Player-of-the-Year, while Blandin received his Coach-of-the-Year award. Delaware State's other 2012 All-MEAC First Team selections-Elliott, Cecil and Sorondo were also recognized by the conference.