As the temperature rises, so did the excitement of baseball fans this weekend as N.C. Central University baseball hosted and won their home opener series 2–1 against the Wagner College Seahawks.
The series began on Friday with a rocky start for the Eagles, who are coming off last season’s 22–28 overall and 12–11 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference record. Senior pitcher Devin Sweet got the starting job after leading NCCU in 2017 in innings pitched, strikeouts and earned run average (ERA) but his time came to an end in Friday’s fifth inning after surrendering a run to Wagner’s Will Johnson.
With the score tied at 2 runs apiece going into the sixth, Wagner pressed through with a three-run homer in that inning that lead NCCU to battle back with hits from seniors Evan Holland and Zach Michalski to knot the game at 5–5 and force the game to an extra inning.
Tension heightened in the tenth as the Seahawks set out to ruin the Eagles’ first game of the season. Another base-cleaner from Wagner pushed the score in Wagner’s favor to 7–5. It looked like NCCU might be able to match scores once more but they were only able to get a home run to right field from sophomore infielder Corey Joyce before the game was through.
Wagner may have won Friday’s battle 7–6, but they didn’t win the war.
Determine to win on their home field, NCCU came back on the offensive Sunday following a rain delay. They swept both games for a combined total of 22 points from their 12–3 and 10–4 wins at noon and 3 p.m. respectively.
It looked at first that Wagner was going to take control of the game again as they scored the first run in the first inning, but the Eagles caught a second-inning win to put up 11 runs in return between then and the end of the fourth inning.
Joyce picked up where he left off on Friday to get two doubles and an RBI while Michalski continued as well with two hits and three RBI of his own. Senior infielder Dominic Cuevas also saw time on the bases as well with three walks and a single.
Coming off of their first win of the day, NCCU took a slower lead and held Wagner off scoring with a first-inning score of 2–0. Wagner scored their first run in the second inning with a score from Freddy Sabido, but that didn’t make much of a difference as NCCU racked up runs to stifle the Seahawks’ attempted comeback at 10–4 following a solid four-run streak from senior utility Andrew Valichka, Holland and Joyce in the bottom of the eighth.
Eagles baseball’s first season road game won’t be too far away as they take on the Duke University Blue Devils at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21.