No. 23 CNU Baseball Blasts Past Southern Virginia in CAC Road Shutout, 15-0

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CROZET, Va. -- Christopher Newport rookie Thomas Packert tossed seven shutout innings and the offense exploded for 15 runs as the 23rd-ranked Captains bounced back after their first loss in nearly a month with a 15-0 shutout at Southern Virginia on Wednesday afternoon. The Captains remain undefeated in conference play, improving to 23-10 overall and 13-0 in league action. 

Senior Josh Moore smacked two home runs in the game, as the CNU offense was powered primarily by two big innings. In those frames, in which the Captains scored 13 runs, much of the damage came on two swings of the bat, as the dominating effort was highlighted by a three-run home run by senior A.J. Nicely, and a grand slam from Moore. The pitching staff was equally as impressive, holding the Knights to just three hits in the shutout victory.

The game was scoreless after two frames, when Austin Henry opened the scoring with an RBI single to plate Brandon Walker after a one-out double. After Jordan Mason was hit by a pitch and Keith Roberts singled to load the bases, designated hitter Brandon Ginch got an RBI groundout to put CNU up 2-0. Then, with two on and two out, Nicely smashed a three-run home run to cap the five-run inning.

The round-tripper was NIcely's second hit of the game, extending his streak of multi-hit games to a career-best nine straight games. It matches his previous high set during his rookie campaign. 

Both teams were quiet through the middle innings as Packert rolled through the Knights offense with little issue. Then, in the top of the 7th, the game was blown wide open with an eight run inning. The inning started much like the fifth, with Austin Henry knocking in the first run of the frame with a double. The bases were then loaded after Mason singled and Roberts walked, bringing up the DH spot in the order. CNU called on senior pinch hitter Bryant Lowry to deliver, and the lefty bat did just that, singling down the right field line to plate two more runs. That knock would chase the Southern Virginia starter from the game, but the Captains weren't done yet in the top of the seventh.

As CNU started to clear the bench, the reserves kept the line moving. Pinch hitting for Nicely, sophomore Eliott Sledd singled to right center to plate a run,  and then, two batters later, Josh Moore stepped in. With the bases full again, the senior left-handed batter smoked a high fly ball over the right field wall for the grand slam home run. 

Moore wasn't finished, adding a solo shot in the top of the ninth, and the Captains tacked on one more when rookie Nick DiNapoli doubled home Joseph Cutchins for the final run of the game. 

On the mound, Packert led the way with solid defense surrounding him. The rookie starter tossed seven clean innings while allowing just two hits and two walks. Rookie Jaret West spun a blank eighth inning with one strikeout and one single allowed, and Brian Owens closed out the clean sheet with a strikeout and a game-ending double play.

It was the fifth shutout of the season for CNU, and the third with Packert as the starting pitcher. He improved to 5-0 this season and lowered his ERA to 1.91. 

CNU will return to action on Thursday and again this weekend, as a six-game road swing continues at Virginia Wesleyan, followed by a doubleheader at Wesley College. The mid-week action against the Marlins will start at 3:00 pm in Norfolk, with live stats and an online audio broadcast available at first pitch. On Saturday, CNU will return to conference play against the Wolverines in Dover, Del. with first pitch at Noon.