Salisbury rolls to CAC title, playoff ticket

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Salisbury is one of six teams that have made the NCAA playoffs every year for the last ten years.
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SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 16 Salisbury University baseball team captured its 14th Capital Athletic Conference Championship Saturday afternoon shutting out the sixth seeded Eagles of Mary Washington University 21-0. The Sea Gulls became the first CAC team to repeat as conference champions since they won it back in 2013-2014.

The maroon and gold raced out to an early 8-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back cruising to the 21 run victory. Back-to-back singles by Scott Ardoin and Pete Grasso helped load the bases for senior catcher Tom LaBriola, who opened the scoring with an RBI single to give the Sea Gulls a 1-0 lead.

A few batters later Ron Villone blew the game open doubling down the left field line to plate both Jay Perry and LaBriola to stretch the lead to 5-0. Overall, Salisbury (30-8) sent 13 batters to the plate totaling eight runs off of five hits. It was the second time this tournament the Sea Gulls plated eight runs against Mary Washington (19-19) in the opening inning of play.  

Justin Meekins added an RBI double in the third while Ardoin recorded a sacrifice fly to push the advantage to double-digits, 10-0. The Sea Gulls added two more runs between the sixth and seventh innings after being shut out during the fourth through the fifth.

Already leading 12-0 in the eighth inning Jack Barry put his stamp on the championship game launching his team leading 12th home run of the season as he lifted a two-run blast to left field pushing the advantage to 15-0.

Grasso, who was dominant both at the plate and on the mound, capped the title game with a solo blast in the ninth inning to stretch the lead to 18-0. He would finish the game with team-high's in hits, four and RBI, three while scoring three runs.   

Getting the start on the bump for the maroon and gold, Grasso was dominant pitching eight shutout innings allowing only six hits and three walks while tying his season-high in strikeouts with nine. It was his second win over the Eagles this week and seventh win overall this season to remain perfect.

It is Salisbury's first shutout in the CAC championship game since defeating York College of Pennsylvania 4-0 in 2013.

Overall, the team cranked out 17 hits in 45 at-bats with 15 RBI and posted 20 or more runs for the fourth time in its last five games. Ardoin finished tied for the lead in RBI with three while Meekins finished the afternoon going 3-for-4 with two RBI and four runs scored. Barry finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored.

For the tournament the Sea Gulls totaled an eye popping 82 runs averaging 20.5 runs per game while holding their opponents to 17 runs with an average of 4.25 scored against per game. In Salisbury's two games against the Eagles during the CAC tournament the Gulls' plated 42 runs while holding Mary Washington to just seven.

With the win Salisbury earns the CAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament which is set to begin in mid-May. It will be the Sea Gulls 23rd appearance and 18th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Salisbury will return to action on Wednesday, April 26 when it travels to the Catholic University of America for an out of conference bout with the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.