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Hawks finish sweep

MURFREESBORO – It was quite a way to celebrate his 21st birthday.

Junior Mike Taylor’s Chowan baseball teammates doused him with the Gatorade water bucket after the baseball games Sunday to celebrate the occasion.

St. Pauls College wishes they could’ve doused his bat as effectively.

Sunday in the second game of a double-header series with the CIAA member Tigers, Taylor was 2-for-3 with two home runs and seven runs driven in. Combined with the five RBIs he had in the first game it gave him a total of a dozen on the day.

Not a bad number of candles to put on your birthday cake.

In the two doubleheader baseball series Chowan has played with St. Pauls this season the Hawks have outscored the Tigers, 80-4. Earlier in Lawrenceville, Virginia, Chowan took a pair of games by scores of 16-1 and 15-1.

Sunday at Hawkins field, baseballs were still flying out of the ball park as Chowan won their eleventh game in their last 12 by completing the sweep with a final of 22-1 in a game shortened to five innings. They won the first game 27-1.

“We just do a lot of (batting) cage work and just keep swinging and keep swinging,” said Taylor. “Coach tells us to not slow down and worry about our approach.

“He usually never takes the bat out of our hands,” he added. “He just tells us to keep swinging.”

The Hawks (20-11) made the most of those swings with 14 rips on the afternoon accounting for the 22 runs. In addition to Taylor’s heroics, junior catcher Zac Caito was 3-for-4 driving in a pair of runs as did freshman shortstop Jake Badinelli. Freshman Bryce Hursey drove in three runs.

Junior left-hander Steve Humphrey got his first win of the year, giving up a run on four hits and striking out a pair. Fellow junior Spencer Fagan came on in relief to strike out two of the three batters he faced.

Chowan got 14 runs in the bottom of the first inning with the same fireworks they used in the first contest as they sent 16 batters to the plate.

Taylor put the first numbers on the scoreboard with a bases-loaded grand slam for a 4-0 lead that chased Tigers’ starter Anthony Lambert. After three more runs were posted, Taylor unloaded on his second home run of the inning, this time a wind-swept three-run shot that just cleared the left-field foul pole.

Robert Weaver followed with a solo shot – his first round-tripper of the year – and the Hawks added three more to lead 14-0 after just a single inning of play.

In the bottom of the third, Chowan batted around again and used six hits and a St. Pauls error to tack on eight more runs.

Hursey got the first two runs in with a two-out single. John Kellett followed driving in another; then after getting an unearned run on an error, Caito drove in two more. Bryan Hill and Thomas Bird followed with run scoring singles each for a 22-0 Hawks lead.

St. Pauls (0-14), which dressed just 10 players for the two games, scored in the top of the fourth inning to erase the goose-egg. There was no more scoring by either team in the last inning and a half.

“Those rainouts (last month) hurt us more than anything,” said Justin Bagbey, who sat out the second game after collecting seven RBIs in the first, “because we’d sometimes have a whole week off without playing and then have to come back and get our timing down.”

Chowan plays its next three games on the road: back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday at UNC-Pembroke before a Saturday double-header at Southern Virginia.

“We’re not as experienced on the road,” said Taylor, “after so many games here, but I think we’re ready to get it rolling away from home.

“But,” he added with a smile, “there’s no place like home.”