College baseball pundits believed, in the NCAA Division II Super Regional between the Univeristy of Charleston and Mercyhurst, that Mercyhurst’s pitching staff would be able to overcome UC. If the first game of that Super Regional is any indication, the Golden Eagles will be a much tougher out than anyone assumed.
It was Charleston’s pitching – and a pair of explosive innings at the plate – that won the day and the game for the Golden Eagles, who took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with a 10-2 win over the Lakers on Friday in Erie, Pennyslvania.
Charleston and Mercyhurst play the second game of the series at 11 a.m. Saturday. If the Lakers can win that to pull even, a third game will be played Saturday afternoon. The winner gets one of eight spots in the Division II national tournament in Cary, North Carolina.
Austin Henrich threw a three-hitter with a career-high 10 strikeouts while the Golden Eagles blistered Mercyhurst for 17 hits in the win. Henrich took a no-hitter into the seventh inning when the Lakers finally got on the board with a Josh Sureowiec home run to right field. The win was Henrich’s ninth of the season and a program-best 23rd of his career.
By then, it was a moot point. Charleston opened with three runs in the first, then after tagging on a run each in the fourth and fifth, pummeled Mercyhurst for five runs in the sixth.
The first three runs of that inning, RBI singles from Hayden Cartt, Drew Hefner and Derek Dudek, ultimately chased Mercyhurst starter Matthew Minnick off the mound. Minnick finished his day allowing 10 runs (eight earned) on 13 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Lakers didn’t help themselves defensively, committing a trio of errors. Two of those errors came in the first inning to help account for UC’s opening salvo.
Gianfranco Morello led Charleston at the plate going 3 for 5 with two RBIs. He also collected his 200th career hit at UC, only the second player in program history to reach that milestone. Austin Hathaway went 2 for 5 with a triple and three runs scored and Colby Johnson and Dudek also drove in a pair of runs each.