Jumbo Baseball Falls 9-4 at Third-Ranked Christopher Newport University on Friday

Freshman catcher Nick Barker was 3 for 3 in the game

NEWPORT NEWS, VA - Sophomore starter Nick Santalucia shook off a rough first inning to lead the third-ranked Christopher Newport Captains (17-4) to a big win over Tufts University (4-3) today, 9-4. Senior Shannon Mark tied the record for career triples in the game, with a lead-off three-bagger in the sixth.

The Jumbos, receiving votes in the national rankings, took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first as they jumped all over Santalucia. Connor McDavitt (Holden, MA), Tim Mitropoulos (Winchester, MA) and Sam Sager (Cranston, RI) each reached with singles to start the game. After a strikeout, Eric Weikert (Avondale Estates, GA) picked up an RBI walk and Wade Hauser (Palo Alto, CA) plated two more with a single to right field.

While Tufts manufactured their three runs in the first, it was one swing of the bat that tied things up in the bottom half. Senior second baseman Matt Shoemaker lifted a towering shot over the left field wall with two outs to score Mark, who singled to start the inning, and Madden, who reached on a fielders choice. The home run tied the game at three.

Santalucia still looked shaky in the second, as he loaded the bases before escaping the jam unharmed. The sophomore southpaw settled in after that, finishing with five innings and four earned runs allowed.

It was the fourth that put the Jumbos back in front, as Matt Collins (Hopkinton, MA) singled home catcher Nick Barker (Weymouth, MA) to pull back ahead, 4-3. CNU answered quickly again, though, and took the lead for good in the bottom half. Steven Lindemuth singled to start the inning, and the bases were loaded after a hit-by-pitch from Steven Keener and a single to right field from Chris McDougal.

Mark stepped in and shot an RBI single into right field, followed by a bases-loaded walk from Billy Steel, and finally an RBI groundout from Connor Madden. The Captains surged ahead by a pair, 6-4, and would not look back. CNU tacked on one run each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings while the bullpen locked things down for the final, 9-4.

Mark's lead-off triple in the sixth inning gave him 10 for his career, tying the all-time CNU record set by Hall of Famer Matt Turner from 2000-03. He later scored on a double by Madden.

The bullpen continued its strong season on Friday, pitching four innings of shutout relief, striking out four and allowing three hits. Junior transfer Andrew Juba saw his first action of the year, striking out a pair in the sixth before giving way to Matt Verdillo for an inning and a third. Junior closer Ryan Fleischmann pitched the final two innings without giving up a hit and striking out a pair.

Santalucia earned the win, improving to 3-0 on the season, while Jumbo senior Kevin Gilchrist (Medford, MA) was stuck with the loss after 3.1 innings in the start. Gilchrist allowed six earned runs and had two walks with no strikeouts.

Tufts outhit the Captains as a team, 13-11, but CNU had six extra-base hits while the Jumbos had none. Mark finished 3 for 5 with two runs and an RBI, while Shoemaker was 2 for 5 with three RBI and two runs scored. Barker was 3 for 3 with a run scored for the Jumbos, while Mitropoulos added a three-hit day.

The Jumbos play their annual double-header at the Apprentice School on Saturday afternoon beginning at 12:30 pm. CNU will return to the field on Sunday as they host a USA South Athletic Conference doubleheader at noon, taking on N.C. Wesleyan College.

Game boxscore

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Game recap courtesy of Christopher Newport University