Hawks sweep weekend

Published 3:11 pm Monday, April 11, 2011

MURFREESBORO – I think if someone quoted Chicago Cubs Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks’ famous line, “Let’s play three” to Chowan University baseball coach Aaron Carroll, the coach might just scowl.

Or then again, maybe he’d smile.

Carroll’s Hawks’ baseball team just played six Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) double-headers in nine days; going 11-1 and winning eleven in a row since dropping the opener of the ‘marathon’ to St. Augustine’s College on April 2.

This weekend Chowan closed out its home season at Hawkins Field with a pair of shutout wins over Shaw University, 9-0 and 6-0. They then followed that up by completing the season sweep of Elizabeth City State, winning Sunday on the road, 5-0 and 6-4.

The roll swept the Hawks into first place in the conference, a game ahead of St. Augustine’s College and two in front of Winston-Salem State.  Chowan will play the Rams in another doubleheader, on Thursday in the Twin Cities.

“We hadn’t played a lot of these type games this year,” said Carroll, “a lot of games in a row, I mean.  And I think that has something to do with our consistency.”

And with no one has that been more evident than with the reigning CIAA Player of the Year: junior slugger Justin Bagbey.

Bagbey had a colossal week at the plate going 10-for-25 in eight games, which was good for a .400 average. Included in that performance were 10 runs scored, 10 walks, 15 runs batted in, one double and three homeruns. The Virgilina, Virginia native had an on-base percentage of .571 and a slugging percentage of .741.

The pitching staff hasn’t had to lean on the sticks, so to speak, either with 10 Hawk hurlers picking up two wins each over the dozen game span. That includes Southern Shores native, senior right-hander John Morris, who threw the season’s first no-hitter against St. Paul’s April 7, not allowing a hit over seven innings pitched.

Bagbey and Morris have been nominated as BCB Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively.

“It’s getting into a rhythm and a groove,” said Carroll, who has now become the winningest coach in Chowan baseball history with a mark of 187-137-2, “but I’m glad along the way we had a rainout break last week because they were tired and I was too.”

After celebrating Senior Day a week ago and honoring the program’s two seniors, Thomas Bird and Morris, the Hawks went into Saturday’s twin-bill home finale looking to remain strong.

In game one, Ryan Moore drove in four runs, including clubbing his team-leading sixth homerun of the season.  Brandon Mack went 2-for-2 and scored three runs while on the mound, lefty John DesChamps twirled a complete-game four-hit shutout with six strike outs.

Scoreless for the first two-and-a-half innings, Brett Overton drove in Mack for Chowan’s first score of the day. One inning later, William Ward delivered Adams Capps for a 2-0 Chowan lead. Moore busted out with his heroics in the fifth, a three-run shot to make it 5-0.

Chowan salted it away in the sixth with Bagbey slamming a two-run double and two more runs via a walk with the bases loaded and a ground-out to make for the 9-0 final.

“Our pitching’s been great,” said DesChamps, who evened his record at 4-4 with the victory, “and now our hitting’s coming around.  I can’t wait for the tournament; it’s all I’m thinking about. ”

Moore drove in two more runs in the nightcap to give him six on the day as Brett Garrett earned his team-leading seventh win on the mound.

“I’ve got a good defense behind me,” said Garrett, “they’re going to make a play and I’ve got a lot of faith in my fielders.”

Catalano opened with scoring in the first inning, coming home on a one-out single by Moore. Chowan didn’t score again until they picked up two in the fourth: Capps scored on a balk and Colby Wiggins scored on a Bird ground out.

Leading 3-0 in the fifth frame, Moore got his final ribbie of the day on a bases loaded sacrifice fly. The Hawks tacked on another when Brent Overton scored on a passed ball.  Overton’s single one inning later produced the final run of the game.

“We did some great things to drive in runs today when we needed to,” said Carroll, “and our pitchers gave us two shutouts against one of the better hitting teams in the league.

“It’s in our hands,” he concluded with a smile.  “We’re right where we want to be with a chance to win the regular-season championship – something we talked about all year.”