NORFOLK, Va. – The No. 24 Salisbury University baseball team traveled for its first road game of the season. The Sea Gulls defeated Virginia Wesleyan College 4-3 in a pitchers' duel on Sunday afternoon.
Virginia Wesleyan (0-3) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first three innings of the game. In the bottom of the first Marlins left fielder Randy Neisz launched a two-run bomb to center field to open the scoring and give Virginia Wesleyan the 2-0 advantage.
The Sea Gulls rallied back, however, beginning to chip away at the lead starting in the fourth inning. After the marlins tacked on another run in the bottom of the third Pete Grasso singled up the middle to give the Sea Gulls their third base runner of the afternoon. One batter later Simon Palenchar broke through offensively for the maroon and gold. Palenchar tripled to center field scoring Grasso but also ended up scoring himself on an error by the shortstop to pull Salisbury within one, 3-2.
Robbie Jones would tie the game just two innings later. Palenchar reached first safely after a fielder's choice and would advance to second on a wild pitch with Jones at the plate. Jones singled to left plating Palenchar to even the score at 3-3.
Both pitching staffs were solid throughout the game holding the teams to a combined 14 hits, nine of which were from the Sea Gulls. They would also combine for 14 strikeouts, and five earned runs.
In the top of the ninth the score remained tied until Kyle Canavan stepped to the plate. Jay Perry reached first on a fielding error by the third baseman to give the Sea Gulls their first base runner since the seventh inning. Scott Ardoin singled up the middle one batter later giving Canavan runners on first and second with two outs. He delivered driving a ball into left field for an RBI single but more importantly the go-ahead run making the score 4-3.
Brad Keith took over from there holding on for the win in the bottom half of the inning. Keith allowed one walk and struck out the final batter of the game to earn the victory over the final two innings.
Jeff Oster, who started on the mound for the maroon and gold was masterful. Oster went six innings pitched, allowing only four hits and three runs while striking out five in his first start of the season. He faced 24 batters totaling 59 strikes on 95 pitches.
Andrew Kramer, who entered in relief of Oster, was also exceptional down the stretch. In just one inning pitched Kramer allowed one hit and a walk while striking out two batters facing five in total.
Overall, the Salisbury pitching staff allowed five hits, three runs, and just five walks while combining to strike out eight batters in nine innings of work.
Grasso finished the afternoon 2-for-4 scoring a run while Canavan and Palenchar combined to go 3-for-9, with two RBI, and two runs scored.
Salisbury will return home on February 14 to complete the two-game series with the Marlins. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.