FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Newberry College baseball team opened the 2010 season with a 4-2 victory over the host Nova Southeastern University Sharks in the Nike/OTS Challenge at the NSU Baseball Complex on Thursday evening.
Newberry (1-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and forced Nova to strand 15 batters on base to pick up the win. Evan Darr (North Augusta, S.C.) hit a two-run single in the first inning and Josh McElwee (Andrews, S.C.) struck out eight batters in four innings. Pierce Labrador (Lexington, S.C.) went 2-for-5 win an RBI and was the only Newberry player with multiple hits.
D.J. Hearsey (1-0; Oviedo, Fla.) picked up the win in relief, pitching 2-2/3 scoreless innings. The Newberry bullpen did not allow a run in final five innings of the game and Chris Roman (Kissimmee, Fla.) earned the save in the ninth inning.
Nova Southeastern (0-2) was led by Brayan Valencia (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), who went 4-for-5 on the night with three doubles and a triple. However, Valencia was only able to drive in one run for the Sharks.
Newberry got off to a hot start thanks to a leadoff single to center by Labrador and a pair of hit batters by Nova starter Sean Koecheler (Baton Rouge, La.). Jovan Rohena (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) and Jim Pollack (Homer, Alaska) were both hit by the junior and loaded the bases with only one out. With Chris Love (Columbia, S.C.) at the plate, Koecheler threw a wild pitch, which allowed Labrador to score and put Rohena and Pollack in scoring position. After Love struck out, Darr hit a single through the left side in his first collegiate at-bat to score Rohena and Pollack and give Newberry the early 3-0 lead.
McElwee gave up a triple to Valencia in the first inning, but struck out the other three batters to preserve the 3-0 lead. After Newberry went out in order in the top of the second, Nova got its first run on the board after Dustin Maggs (Satellite Beach, Fla.) led off with a single, advanced to second after the next batter was hit by a pitch, moved to third on an error and scored on a passed ball to make it a 3-1 game. McElwee calmed down after that and earned a strikeout and forced a groundout to get out of the inning.
Nova narrowed the lead again in the bottom of the third after Eric McCans (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) led off with a single and Valencia drove him home with a double to make it 3-2. Newberry got the next three batters out and stranded Valencia at third to get out of the inning.
C.J. Tyrkala (Palm Harbor, Fla.) hit a one-out double in the top of the fourth and moved to third on a single by John Fogarile (New York, N.Y.). After a strikeout, Labrador hit a two-out single through the left side to drive Tyrkala home and give Newberry the 4-2 lead.
Newberry's offense struggled for the rest of the game, but the defense made big plays to keep the Sharks off of the board for the rest of the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Nikko Echevarria (Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and was replaced on the bag by McCans after a fielders' choice. Valencia doubled, but a great relay throw from Fogarile to Tyrkala gunned McCans down at the plate. Dale Bennett (Summerville, S.C.) replaced Hearsey at that point and allowed a single to Luis Penate (Miami, Fla.) and walked Maggs to load the bases. But the senior forced Rhys Roberts (Parkland, Fla.) to ground out to lead the bases loaded and keep the score at 4-2.
The defense saved the game again after Roman came in to pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning. Valencia hit his final double of the night, but was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple. After Penate popped up to put Newberry within one out of the win, NSU rallied when Maggs walked and advanced to third on a fielding error that put Roberts on first. With runners on the corners, Sharad Johnson (Nassau, Bahamas) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But Roman shut the door on the exhilarating game when he forced Matt Fisher (Sunrise, Fla.) to ground into a game-ending fielders' choice.
Newberry will face off with the Sharks again on Friday in their second game of the Nike/OTS Challenge. First pitch at the NSU Baseball Complex is set for 6 p.m.
Newberry 4, Nova Southeastern 2
(Feb 04, 2010 at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Newberry............ 300 100 000 - 4 6 2 (1-0)
Nova Southeastern... 011 000 000 - 2 10 1 (0-2)
Pitchers: Newberry - Josh McElwee; D.J. Hearsey(5); Dale Bennett(7); Chris Roman(9) and C.J. Tyrkala
. Nova Southeastern - Koecheler; Hicks(4); Albury(9) and Fitzsimmonds; Fisher.
Win-D.J. Hearsey(1-0) Save-Chris Roman(1) Loss-Koecheler(0-1) T-3:00 A-310