By Sam Armstrong
ARLINGTON, Va. – For the first time in program history, the Southern Virginia University baseball team has clinched a spot in the CAC Tournament, beating Marymount in both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Knights won the first game 10-5 and the second game 10-7.
Game one started with a bang as Ryan Saunders cranked a lead-off home run to right field to give the Knights (18-16, 9-9 CAC) a 1-0 lead. The Knights extended the lead in the fifth on a couple of unearned runs, but the Saints (13-21, 5-13 CAC) responded with a grand slam in the bottom half of the frame to take the lead at 4-3.
It was all Southern Virginia from there on out, however, as the squad scored seven runs in the final four innings for the 10-5 victory.
Southern Virginia had no problem putting a bat in the ball, combining for 11 hits led by Jonathan Soto's three. Saunders, Cole Critchfield, and Caleb Layden each had two hits for the Knights, while Saunders and Bridger Taylor each drove in two runs.
Tayler Peterson pitched six innings and gave up four earned runs while striking out three in his seventh win of the season. Tanner Black was clutch in relief, tossing three innings of no-hit ball to seal the deal.
The Knights' offense didn't slow down in game two, with six different players finishing with multi-hit games in the 10-7 victory.
Southern Virginia once again started off the game strong, scoring a run in the first inning, another in the second thanks to a Jordan Keefer solo home run, and stretching the lead to 4-0 in the third in a two-run homer off the bat of Canon Anderson. Marymount put up a good fight just as it did in the first game, scoring six runs over the third, fourth, and fifth innings to take a 6-4 advantage.
The Knights came storming back yet again, scoring five runs in the seventh, in part due to Anderson's second two-run homer of the game. The Saints would score again in the eighth inning to make the game 9-7, but Southern Virginia would score again in the ninth and would go home victorious.
Seth Burris started on the hill, lasting four innings and allowing five runs (one earned). Jonathan Hodges came on in relief and pitched the rest of the game, giving up only two runs and punching out five batters over five innings while earning his third win of the season.
With the wins, the Knights will be the fifth seed in the CAC Tournament and will play in a three-team pod in Newport News, Va. with Penn State-Harrisburg and Christopher Newport. Southern Virginia's first game will be on Friday against Penn State-Harrisburg at 9 a.m. and they will play CNU later that day.