CNU Advances to CAC Championship With Extra Inning Walk-Off Win Over Top-Seeded York (Pa.), 3-2

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YORK, Pa. -- Facing elimination for the second time on Saturday, the Christopher Newport baseball team got an impressive pitching performance from junior Kyle Goddard and timely hitting from senior Billy Steel to get by host and top-seeded York College (Pa.) (22-7) in extra innings, 3-2.  The Captains (23-14) trailed 2-0 headed into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Spartans could not hold off a CNU rally to tie things up and force extra innings, where Steel delivered the game-winning RBI single. 

The Spartans, who lost earlier in the day to second-seeded Salisbury, were facing elimination for the first time in the 2014 CAC Championship Tournament. The home team got a splendid pitching performance from rookie left-hander Randy Frankenfield making just his fourth career start. Frankenfield tossed eight scoreless innings before the Captains spoiled his bid for a complete game shutout. Before the ninth inning, he had allowed just three hits to the potent Captains offense, shutting out CNU with four strikeouts. 

On the mound for CNU was another surprise starter, as the 2013 USA South Player of the Year, Justin Weaver, made his first career start for the Captains. Weaver, primarily an offensive player in his career, had made one start at the University of Mount Olive as a sophomore, but since transferring to Christopher Newport, had seen just two relief appearances. Facing elimination, head coach John Harvell called on his senior to step up in a big situation. 

Through the first four innings, Weaver looked comfortable with his new role and worked his way through the York lineup, allowing just three hits. In the fifth, facing a pitch count in the 60's, Weaver was finally caught in a jam. Freshman Logan Countryman led things off with a walk, followed by a single to put runners on the corners by rookie Scott Steffy. The Captains gunned down a runner at the plate on a bunt attempt to get the first out, and Weaver worked an infield pop-up to get the second out. After another walk, though, CNU called on reliever Kyle Goddard. The first batter he faced, senior catcher Colbe Herr, capitalized on the bases-loaded situation and drove in a pair on a single up the middle. 

But that would be all Goddard allowed. He promptly induced an inning-ending fly out and when he returned to the mound in the sixth, he was unhittable. Aside from one walk issued, Goddard was perfect for the next five innings, retiring 13 straight batters at one point in the game. His best performance of the season came at the best possible time for the Captains, as he managed to keep the game close headed into the bottom of the ninth. 

Junior outfielder Tommy Vitaletti kicked things off in the final frame with a double to center field. Then, Steel came up with the first of two big hits on the day as he drove in the Captains' first run of the game with a double of his own, down the right field line. The two-base hit was the 51st of his career, and he added to his already program-best mark in the category. After a fly out was recorded for the first out, Frankenfield walked Weaver. The second out would be a key play for CNU, as both runners moved up on a groundout by Curtis Pittman. Being 90 feet closer to home was critical, as it was another ground ball that scored the game-tying run by the next hitter, Kyle Corwin. The groundball forced a throwing error by the shortstop that plated Steel to tie things up.

Heading into extra innings, Goddard continued to deal for CNU, getting back-to-back groundouts to start the inning. After a runner reached on an error, Goddard retired the side with a fly ball to center field. 

With Frankenfield now relieved, the Captains jumped on the new pitcher, junior Zach Philippi. A.J. Nicely led off with a single up the middle before Tommy Kane traded places with him on a fielders choice. Vitaletti stepped in and delivered another hit, a single through the left side, to put two runners on with one out. Harvell called on speedy pinch runner Preston Grissom to run for his catcher at second base with Steel coming to the plate. 

Steel came into the game as the league-leader in runs batted in and he would deliver yet again in his huge senior season. Facing a 1-2 count, Steel took an outside pitch the other way and dropped a single down the right field line, sending Grissom sprinting around third base and in to home for the game-winning run. 

The Captains were led by Vitaletti and Steel, combining for five of the eight hits in the game. Vitaletti was 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Steel was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Goddard picked up the win, improving to 2-0 on the season. 

CNU will now return to Jaquet Field on Sunday to take on Salisbury University in the CAC Championship Game. In order to lift the 2014 trophy, the Captains will need to beat the nationally-ranked Sea Gulls twice, as No. 17 Salisbury (27-7) have yet to lose in the double-elimination conference tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. with live video stream available and live stats joined in progress.