Early runs power Lancers past Maryland Eastern Shore

Published 7:41 pm Saturday, February 19, 2022

Longwood baseball scored early and often on blustery Saturday afternoon at Buddy Bolding Stadium, and the result was an 11-7 win over a game Maryland Eastern Shore side. The win clinched the series for Longwood with one game to play.

The Lancers posted eight runs over the first three innings, and six players tallied multiple hits in the Longwood (2-0) lineup.

On a day when the wind wreaked havoc on any balls in the air, the top four guys in the batting order posted two hits apiece in Hayden Harris, Dylan Wilkinson, Hunter Gilliam and Jack Schnell. Corbin McClould added three base knocks, and Michael Peterson went 2-3 with a double and an inside-the-park home run.

“Offensively we put up some runs early,” said Longwood head coach Chad Oxendine. “I feel like in the top of the fifth, it got a little sloppy. We gave up a four-spot in the fifth. I just told the team that the sign of good teams is that you continue to play no matter what the score is on the scoreboard. A win’s a win. I think you’ve got to win some ugly ones and today was a little ugly for us.”

That was plenty of support for the Lancer pitching staff that saw freshman Kevin Warunek (1-0) piece together a solid outing in his collegiate debut. The lanky lefthander went five innings to earn the win with a trio of strikeouts. The bullpen posted three scoreless innings, with only a two-run hiccup in the seventh.

“He threw well and gave us a chance to win,” Oxendine said. “He continued to throw strikes. He was landing into his breaking ball, getting it over. He just kind of ran out of gas. It’s early in the year, and we just wanted him to get through the fifth to be honest. He did that. You could tell towards the fifth that he kind of started wearing down a little bit, but for a freshman, he competed his butt of and did a great job for us.

“The bullpen came in and threw strikes again, and that’s exactly what we’ve asked of them.”

For Maryland Eastern Shore (0-2), Dillon Oxyer tallied three base knocks and scored three times while Tyler Woodward had a pair of base hits and three RBI.

Gilliam broke open the scoring for Longwood with an RBI double in the first inning, and the Lancers also capitalized on a couple of Maryland Eastern Shore miscues.

Harris roped an RBI double down the left field line to add a run in the second before the Lancers broke the game open with a five-run third inning. Dix and Faulkenberry combined to drive in three runs before Peterson tagged a fly ball that carried to the wall in left-center. The speedy junior raced around the bases for his first career inside-the-park home run and an 8-0 lead.

The Lancers extended the lead to 10-1, but Maryland Eastern Shore finally solved the puzzle that was Warunek and battled back with a four-run fifth inning. Brian Cordell, Riley Horner, Oxyer and Woodward all drove in runs to trim the Lancer lead to 10-5.

Harris answered with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the fifth, and the Lancer bullpen controlled the bulk of the rest of the game. Logan Berrier tossed a pair of scoreless innings to close the game out, striking out four of the seven batters he faced while only giving up one hit.

“Guys are starting to buy in to their roles,” Oxendine said. “It’s easy for us to sit here and say we’re going to hit a double and try to hit a home run every single time. Instead of over swinging and trying to do all that, they’re playing a little offense and trying to move runners over. We had a couple sac flies today. Guys are executing and doing what we need to do to get runs in.”

Noah Covington (0-1) took the loss for Maryland Eastern Shore He surrendered eight runs over the first three innings, but only three were earned due to costly errors by the Hawks.

The two sides will tango one last time on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Longwood will send righthander Dominic D’Ercole to the mound against Maryland Eastern Shore’s Evan Nibblett.