Hawks score 27 in baseball win
MURFREESBORO – Kaboom!
That’s the sound of the offensive explosion of the Chowan University baseball team after climbing to 20 wins following a weekend series sweep of CIAA member St. Pauls College at Hawkins Field.
It could also be the sound of the imploding of the record book as the Hawks took game-one by a resounding 27-1 in a game shortened to five innings. Slugger Justin Bagbey, who entered the game as the second leading hitter in NCAA Division-II with a whopping .526 batting average, added to his totals by driving in seven runs including a grand-slam home run.
The four-bag dinger was the Virgilina, Virginia freshman’s school-record 12th of the season. It also came one day after Chowan saw its nine-game win streak snapped as the Hawks split a twin-bill with Virginia State in Petersburg; winning 5-2 in the first game, but falling short by a run in the second contest, 4-3.
“This was a good game to get our momentum going after yesterday”, said Bagbey, “so we came in today wanting to get two big wins because this week we’ve got four games on the road.”
“As far as the home-runs,” he added, “after I started hitting a couple people started talking about it but no one would tell me what it was. I wanted to just keep hitting the ball hard and the next thing you know I’d hit 11 and they said I had the record.
“That surprised me because as good a team as they had last year I thought the record might be more than that,” he added.
Teammate Mike Taylor might have eclipsed Bagbey with a whopping and certain record-breaking eighth RBI, but Taylor collected only a single run driven in when he flied out in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded. Taylor finished with five runs driven in.
“They (St. Pauls) were just serving fast balls up and we just had chances to get the ball deep so we let it fly,” Taylor said.
The pitching performance was also sterling as senior left-hander Bryan Hill posted his team-leading fifth win of the year by twirling a one-hit, six strikeout performance; giving up just one run to drop his earned-run-average to 3.02.
“I don’t like embarrassing anybody,” said fifth-year coach Aaron Carroll, “but the kids really performed and if we don’t beat them that badly then we really haven’t performed up to the best of our abilities.”
Chowan got things rolling by posting 10 runs in the first inning thanks to John Kellett driving in a run and Bagbey followed scoring two more. Taylor then delivered the first of his four RBIs in the inning with a two-run homer and the Hawks had scored five runs courtesy of the first five batters losing Tigers pitcher Gutierrez faced.
Jordan Whitlach later drove in two more runs in the inning and Bagbey collected his third ribbie thanks to a base-loaded walk before Taylor ripped a double to score another pair for the 10-run cushion.
After collecting two more runs in the third inning and St. Pauls posting its only run of the game, the Hawks went nuclear on the Tigers with 15 runs in the fourth. The wild inning was highlighted by not one but Two grand-slam homeruns. In addition to the record-setting 12th homer by Bagbey, junior Zac Caito joined the home-run barrage as he powered a bases-loaded dinger over the left center-field wall.
Freshman Adam Capps just missed making it a trio of grannies, but settled for a three-run shot as the Hawks battered Tigers pitching with nine hits for the inning coupled with three St. Pauls errors.
“We swung the bat good,” said Carroll, “and they gave us some more opportunities for runs because errors.
“It’s the kind of game you really don’t enjoy playing,” he added, “but give them credit because our kids still got to hit the ball. We could have used some of those runs yesterday.”