Cutchins' Walk-Off Hit Leads CNU to 8th Straight win; Captains Down Salisbury in Extras, 5-4

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Christopher Newport sophomore Joseph Cutchins saw just one pitch in his final at-bat. It was enough to deliver an extra-inning game-winning smash to the right field wall, as the Captains won their eighth straight game, 5-4, over Salisbury University (14-7, 6-1).  The Captains improved to 17-9 overall with a 7-0 mark in conference play, taking over sole possession of first in the Capital Athletic Conference.

Cutchins' dramatic single (would-be double were it not for the celebration), finished off a thrilling matchup between two of the league's top teams. After two quick outs in the bottom of the 10th, the Captains put together a quick two-out rally for the game-winning knock. A.J. Nicely started things off with a blistering shot into the corner that just snuck out for a ground-rule double. The Sea Gulls then walked Craig Johnson, who was 3-4, to set up a force at any bag with Cutchins at the plate. Facing junior lefty Logan Manz, the CNU second baseman wasted no time with the dramatics, pounding a long single into the right field corner for the game-winning hit. 

Junior Joe Burris (2-0) picked up the win in relief for the Captains, tossing two scoreless innings in support of a strong performance by sophomore starter Thomas Packert.
Two of the top pitchers in the conference matched up toe-to-toe for the first five innings of action, as CAC Pitcher of the Week Jeff Oster dueled the Captains' starting sophomore. Oster was perfect the first time through the lineup, and Packert earned strikeouts in eight of the first 10 outs. 
The Captains offense would strike first, as Jordan Mason singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. After a walk to Keith Roberts, Brandon Ginch singled to right field to send Mason sprinting home for the first run of the game.
After both starters cruised through the fifth with little issue, Salisbury would respond with three runs in the top of sixth. After allowing nothing but singles through his first 115 batters faced this season, Packert finally gave up his first extra-base hit of the season when Colby Dean led off with a flared double down the left field line. After a sacrifice bunt and a walk, Pete Grasso doubled down the right field line to tie the game at one run apiece.
With runners at second and third and only one out, Tom LaBriola lofted a go-ahead sacrifice fly to right field. The Sea Gulls would close out the 3-run inning with an RBI single through the right side from Jack Barry.
CNU would cut into the lead in the bottom half on Oster, courtesy of a tremendous at-bat from Brandon Ginch. With one on and two out, Ginch took the first strike before fouling off five straight pitches to hang in against one of the league's top arms. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Ginch crushed a double over the left fielders head to make it 3-2.
After Pete Grasso put the Gulls back on top by two with a solo homer in the 8th, the Captains mounted a rally in the bottom half. Mason started things off with a walk, and Nicholas Baham joined him two batters later with another free pass. With two on and two out, senior A.J. Nicely hammered a line drive into left field to plate the first run of the inning. Then, Craig Johnson delivered an RBI single into center field, chasing Baham home for the tying run.
After a walk to Joseph Cutchins to load the bases, Brandon Walker absolutely smashed a bases-loaded, full-count fly ball down the left field line that everyone in the ballpark thought was gone, but the heavy wind at Captains Park knocked it down and ended the Captains' rally.
The teams each tossed clean ninth to send the game into extras.

Packert finished with a line of 8.0 innings, 5 hits, 4 earned, 10 strikeouts and two walks. Oster left in position for the win after 6.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned, and four strikeouts with one walk. The Captains got the Salisbury bullpen as five different pitchers tossed 3.1 innings with four hits, three earned and five walks allowed. 

Three Captains registered multi-hit days, led by Johnson's three-for-four effort. Cutchins finished just 1-for-2, with a pair of sacrifice bunts earlier in the game. 

Christopher Newport will hit the road for a conference doubleheader at St. Mary's (Md.) on Saturday, taking on the Seahawks at Noon.