Diamond Hawks outlast GMU in 12-8 slugfest

Brandon Sans, Staff Writer

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The UNC Wilmington baseball team’s high-powered offense outshined a pitching staff still searching for stability on Friday.

Pitching struggles made UNCW’s 12-8, season-opening win over George Mason far more interesting at times for a Seahawk offense that got a hit from every batter.

“It’s the first time out. They’ll be better. They’ve been better,” said UNCW coach Mark Scalf. “We expect them to come back in the next time out and do a much better job filling up the strike zone and attacking hitters.”

Sophomore right-hander Alex Royalty began his day in solid fashion with a strikeout during a clean first inning, but ran into trouble in the second when his secondary pitches got away from him. It lead to George Mason plating three-runs before Royalty settled down and allowed one run over his final three frames.

“In the later innings I started finding my breaking balls, my fastball was good. I just wasn’t locating it on the outer-third,” said Royalty, who finished with five strikeouts in five innings “We’ll knock the rust off and get back at it.”

A bounce-back third inning saw junior Mason Berne and senior Casey Golden hit back-to-back homers for the Seahawks. Berne’s shot to left scored preseason All-American and reigning CAA Player of the Year Nick Feight, who went 3-for-5.

UNCW broke out soon after, attacking George Mason reliever Riley Stephenson for three runs, four hits, and two hit by pitches before tacking on another run to give itself a five-run lead after five innings.

Relievers Austin Easter and Alex Groff combined to allow the Patriots four runs in the seventh before junior Alex Magestro (1 SV 2.2 IP 4 K) entered and shut down the rally with a strikeout and pop-out with runners in scoring position.

“Those situations are something I embrace. I know I’m going to be put in them,” said Magestro. “It’s something I prepare for physically and mentally. I love it.”

Up next for UNCW will be Virginia Military Institute on Saturday before concluding the Hughes Brothers Challenge on Sunday with a matchup against Appalachian State. Both games are scheduled for 2 p.m.

Stat of the Night: Graduate student Terrence Connelly welcomed himself back to the team by going 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Connelly now has more triples (four) than home runs (three) in his college career.

Quote of the Night: “Everyone was excited to get back out here,” said Golden. “We know we can score runs. We got some confidence and just kept rolling.”