Diamond Hawks thump W&M early in CAAs

Brandon Sans, Staff Writer

When an assortment of rain showers ultimately pushed back UNC Wilmington’s first game of the Colonial Athletic Association nearly three hours, most of the Seahawks (29-27) were tasked with finding a way to stay relaxed during the delay. There was, however, one exception.

“I don’t have to show up until an hour before game time,” said starting pitcher Alex Royalty. “I’m not sure [how UNCW made use of the time], but I guarantee I missed out on a lot of fun.”

If Royalty missed out on his teammates fun before the game, he made sure to bring some of his own fun over the 7.2 innings of one-run baseball he completed in UNCW’s 6-2 win over William & Mary (32-24) that finished in the early hours of Friday.

“William & Mary devastated us last year and we just wanted to put the foot on the throttle,” said Royalty. “Getting that first win helps us out a lot.”

It can’t be stated enough the importance of winning the first game in the double-elimination tournament. Had the Seahawks lost, they would’ve had to win at least four straight in order to capture their second CAA tournament championship in three years.

As long as the offense continues to produce runs like it did against the Tribe, it may not matter how many games UNCW needs to play. A trio of Seahawks hit home runs in the game, including a three-run home run by right fielder Casey Golden that put the Tribe away for good.

“It’s how we drew it up before the game,” said Golden. “Alex went out and set the tone. That’s the way you want to play baseball.”

The Seahawks return on Friday to play Delaware (32-21), who upset top seed Northeastern (28-24) 5-3 on Thursday. Freshman Zarion Sharpe will make his collegiate postseason debut when he starts for UNCW, but the inexperience does not concern head coach Mark Scalf.

“Just be Zarion. Don’t make the situation bigger than it is,” said Scalf. “If he goes out and competes like he has, in a starting role in conference play, he’ll certainly give us an opportunity to win a ball game.”