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Bullpen steps up in win over St. Joseph’s

Scalf: “The defensive part is where we need to make some progress."

Noah+Bridges+%2822%29+bats+during+UNCW%27s+season+opener+against+St.+Joseph%27s+on+Feb.+15%2C+2019+at+Brooks+Field.
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Bullpen steps up in win over St. Joseph’s

Noah Bridges (22) bats during UNCW's season opener against St. Joseph's on Feb. 15, 2019 at Brooks Field.

Noah Bridges (22) bats during UNCW's season opener against St. Joseph's on Feb. 15, 2019 at Brooks Field.

Brandon Sans/The Seahawk

Noah Bridges (22) bats during UNCW's season opener against St. Joseph's on Feb. 15, 2019 at Brooks Field.

Brandon Sans/The Seahawk

Brandon Sans/The Seahawk

Noah Bridges (22) bats during UNCW's season opener against St. Joseph's on Feb. 15, 2019 at Brooks Field.

Austin Chandler, Contributing Writer

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UNC Wilmington baseball improved its record to 2-1 on Saturday with a 10-8 win against Saint Joseph’s at Brooks Field. The Seahawks avenged yesterday’s season-opening loss to the Hawks.

The Seahawks pitching and defense struggled early in the game which allowed the Hawks to jump out to a 4-1 lead after the first inning. Sophomore starting pitcher Landen Roupp walked the first two SJU batters.

“It was a tight strike zone. Fair but tight,” said coach Mark Scalf. “That’s what you saw. Landon struggled with his command in the first inning and then again in the second. He had two walks in both innings. We didn’t make them earn a lot in the first couple innings.”

Roupp was pulled in the second inning after allowing three earned runs on 61 pitches. While the Seahawks defense and pitching started slow, their offense was a different story.

The Seahawks answered the Hawks three runs in the second inning with two of their own when sophomore Greg Jones delivered a two-out single to left field that scored two runs. Strong relief pitching from junior Blake Deatherage sent the Seahawks into the bottom of the third down by a single run.

An offensive explosion by the Seahawks in the bottom of the third, which included a double by junior Kep Brown, a triple by freshman Brooks Baldwin, and a one-run homer by junior Zach Bridges, gave the Seahawks a 7-4 lead.

The momentum the Seahawks gained from their third-inning rally was immediately squandered after the Hawks countered with four unanswered runs, three in the fourth and one in the fifth, to retake the lead at 8-7.

Deatherage was relieved by Kevin Mintz in the third inning after allowing three earned runs on four hits in just over one inning. From this point on the Seahawks, pitching started to improve. Mintz turned in one inning in which he allowed just one run, followed by two shutout innings from sophomore Nick Bruno.

Having already hit a single in the second inning and an RBI triple in the third, freshman second baseman, Baldwin, stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning with no outs and a man on first and his team trailing by one run. Baldwin sent the first pitch he saw high over the right-field wall which put the Seahawks back on top 9-8. The two-run shot was Baldwin’s first career home run.

“I mean especially with our two middle infielders injured, him coming in and playing pretty solid second base and having a huge game offensively; it’s huge,” Brown said about his freshman teammate. “It was big for us, it obviously changed the outcome of the game, but nobody was surprised. We expect that out of him.”

Baldwin was held hitless in his first seven at-bats of the season coming into this game. He finished Saturday’s game only a double away from the cycle.

“It feels good. Yesterday in my first two career starts I had a little bit of butterflies, but I was a little more relaxed today.” Baldwin said.

Baldwin’s two-run shot was followed by singles from brothers Noah and Zachary Bridges. An RBI ground out by Jones drove home the runner on third, giving the Seahawks a 10-8 lead going into the eighth inning.

Senior closer Blake Morgan, who was brought in to finish the seventh inning, turned in a stellar performance to close out the game and help the Seahawks secure the victory. Morgan shut the Hawks out in the last two innings of the game, allowing zero hits and racking up five strikeouts.

“Offensively, we had a much better approach today,” said Scalf. “Hopefully we’ll continue to learn how to approach each situation and what kind of plan each guy has.”

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Bullpen steps up in win over St. Joseph’s