SALISBURY, Md. - Wesley College used a three-run first inning to claim a 4-2 win over No. 6 Salisbury in the second round of the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Wolverines (23-13-1) were facing elimination in the contest, but for the second time this season a freshman pitcher stepped up to hold a Sea Gull (30-5) team ranked in the top six at bay. This time it was Matt Faulkner (Milford, Del./Milford), who allowed just three hits and three walks in 6.1 innings for the win. Earlier this year, D.J. Keckler (Fallston, Md./Fallston) shut out Salisbury when the Sea Gulls were the No. 1 team in Division III.
Wesley scored three times before the Salisbury's Kyle Starr recorded an out in the first inning. Stu Madden (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) walked to start the game, stole second and scored on a single by Kevin Murphy (Middletown, Md./Middletown) for a 1-0 lead. Grant Morlock (Bel Air, Md./Fallston) followed with another single and both players moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Geoff Kimmel (Lawrenceville, N.J./Lawrence) followed with a single to drive in Murphy, with Morlock also coming home on an error during the play. Wesley nearly scored again with one out, but Kimmel was cut down at home on a fielder's choice.
After the inning, both pitchers settled in and kept the offenses in check for the next five innings. Faulkner allowed just two hits and did not walk a batter in the first six innings, while Starr rebounded to retire 13 in a row until the top of the sixth.
Morlock led off the top of the inning with a double and ended up on third on an error. Kimmel followed with his second RBI of the game with his second hit of the afternoon.
The Salisbury offense rallied in the seventh after a lead off walk by Mike Celenza. After a single by Ryan Smith, Faulkner picked up the first out of the inning with a strike out. A walk and a hit batter followed, however, to get Salisbury on the scoreboard. A wild pitch later in the inning cut Wesley's lead to 4-2 with just one out.
The next batter, Randy Boyle sent a ground ball to Morlock at third with the bases loaded. Morlock threw home for the force and Kyle McGuire (Hartly, Del./Polytech) forced a ground out to end the threat.
After McGuire pitched a perfect eighth, Chris Koch (Hyattsville, Md./Bishop McNamara) retired the side in order for his second save of the year.
Faulkner struck out four to improve to 3-0 on the year and allowed just one earned run to lower his ERA to 2.25.
Madden's steal in the first inning was Wesley's 126th of the year, tying the Capital Athletic Conference record for a single season.
Kimmel had his second three-hit game in as many days and Morlock and Greg McKee (Dover, Del./Caesar Rodney) added two hits apiece.
Starr started and allowed four runs, three earned, in 7.2 innings to take the loss. He struck out seven and allowed seven hits and a walk.
Salisbury's three hits in the game were their fewest since Keckler held the Sea Gulls to two hits on February 28.
With the win, Wesley will face the St. Mary's (Md.) on Saturday at 1:00 PM at Salisbury. The Wolverines swept the season series from the Seahawks during the regular season.