Blue Hens baseball comes up short in the home opener, sweeps Sunday doubleheader
As the sunset and the field lights drew longer shadows over the players in Bob Hannah Stadium, more than 100 loyal fans snuggled together for warmth watching the final innings of the university men’s baseball home opener.
Despite the cold wind, the Blue Hens brought fire against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks on Friday night, a game that would end with a one-run victory for the Hawks, 8-7.
“I thought we got surely good pitching, surely out of CJ ‘The Lefty’ Schaible and then you know by Ludman at the end,” Head Coach Jim Sherman said. “It was a decent college baseball game. [It] was one of those games you’d like to win.”
The first inning was grueling, as the Hens gave up five runs. Starting pitcher Mike Biasiello gave up a two-run homer, which combined with two walks, gave the Hawks a dramatic lead of 5-0.
After that, the Hens began to climb back up the scoreboard, collecting runs through the rest of the game. Redshirt senior shortstop Vinny Vaccone did not connect with the ball well while at-bat, but he still made out with three runs for the night. In the bottom of the fifth, Vaccone stole his way from first to third, then tagged up on a pop-fly.
During the second and third innings, the teams saw the use of a lesser-known new rule introduced by the NCAA in 2019: a hit by pitch rule that states batters cannot put themselves in front of a pitched ball to intentionally get a base. Some interpretations of this rule can mean if there’s not a clear movement away from the pitch, even in the batter’s box, the player will be out.
Left-handed senior pitcher CJ Schaible and junior pitcher Chris Ludman dominated the second half of the game, putting up a wall of defense against further scoring by the Hawks.
“We just came up short by one run,” Sherman said. “Bad first inning.”
Sherman, in his 20th year as Delaware’s head coach, was enthusiastic that the Hens would show up and “swing the bat” in the right place for the doubleheader on Sunday to complete the series. The Saturday game was rescheduled due to the potential for high winds and below 20 degree weather. Even though Friday night saw snow flurries, there was enough of a crowd to make noise as the game neared its close.
On Sunday, the teams finished their series in a doubleheader where the Blue Hens swept the Hawks first 11-4 and then 4-3. The two wins bring up the Hens’ record to 4-5, after a rough first week with four road losses.
The first game, shortened to seven innings due to the rescheduling, was close until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Hens scored six runs.
In the final game, the fourth inning also brought contention. The Hawks pushed early with a run in the second and took two in the fourth. The Blue Hens rose to meet them with two runs in the fourth and tied it up with the Hawks in the fifth. The game went into extra innings, with the Hens scoring a final run in the 10th inning to bring the series to a close.