Wilmington University Wins Pitcher's Duel Over Palm Beach Atlantic

Written By: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for Athletic Communications

PBA Freshman Hurler Christian Wonders (Pictured) Tossed 8.2 Innings on Tuesday Evening Allowing Only One Earned Run. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. PBA Freshman Hurler Christian Wonders (Pictured) Tossed 8.2 Innings on Tuesday Evening Allowing Only One Earned Run. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

Box Score

LAKE WORTH, Fla.- The Palm Beach Atlantic University baseball team and its counterpart Wilmington University battled in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel on Tuesday evening at Dave Manzo Field as both teams entered the ninth inning tied at 1-1. Although a masterful overall effort, Sailfish freshman Christian Wonders would not be able to finish off the Wildcats as the go-ahead run came home on a passed ball as WU then closed out the Fish in the bottom half of the inning for a 2-1 win.

Having won their fair share of close games this season including two one-run wins last Saturday at home versus Eckerd College, the Sailfish (12-7) luck would finally run out on Tuesday as the tough ending opens a week of busy action for the Blue and White as they will play six games in five days during the Spring Break week.

The game began inauspiciously for Palm Beach Atlantic as the game’s opening hitter, Joe Harbach lifted a fly ball into right-centerfield that PBA outfielder Ethan Perla was able to make a miraculous diving catch. That was the good news. The bad news came after the fact as Perla and right-fielder Brooks Fleming would collide on the play, both diving head first for the fly ball. The two speedy outfielders would both walk off under their own power but would be removed from the game as a precaution.

With two-thirds of their outfield now new as Nick Natale moved from left-field to center-field and Ismael Cotto and Matt Civetti came in off the bench to play left-field and right-field respectively, the Fish would go back to work.

A Jordan Oncay single would fall in next followed by a bloop double down the right-field line by Matt Umba that put runners at second and third with one out. A sacrifice fly from Mike Godwin would bring home the first inning run for the Wildcats. 

Opposing Wonders on the mound for WU was another freshman in Tim Racek. Racek would retire the first ten Sailfish hitters in order before a one-out walk to Johnny Cole ended his perfect night in the fourth inning.

After allowing the one run in the first inning, Wonders would get in a groove as he retired eighteen of the next nineteen batters he faced with a harmless fifth inning single from Joe Marciano being the only blemish through the middle innings. 

Both pitchers continued to cruise as WU would opt to make a move to their bullpen after the top of the seventh inning as they looked to hand the 1-0 lead to their pen. Racek would be relieved by left-hander Joe Harris who despite allowing two singles in the seventh inning kept the 1-0 lead for the Wildcats.

The Fish would finally break through an inning later in the bottom of the eighth inning as a RBI groundout off the bat of Cole pushed the tying run to score as the game knotted up at 1-1.

After Wonders retired the first two batters of the ninth inning without any trouble, a two-out walk to Godwin began a rally. Wonders would issue a single to the following hitter and then a hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases.

With Kenny Frosch ready in the bullpen, PBA head coach Gary Carter decided to make the change to bring in Frosch to face the left-handed hitting Marciano. Unfortunately for the Fish, a passed ball on Frosch’s second offering would allow the go-ahead run to score for a 2-1 Wildcat lead. Frosch would retire Marciano on strikes to end the inning.

Oncay closed out the win for WU with a perfect bottom of the ninth inning.

Wonders took the tough-luck loss despite allowing only four hits and two runs (one earned) in 8.2 innings of work. The Martin County product posted five strikeouts and two walks as his season earned-run average sits at 0.40.

Yogi Gunther finished 2-for-4 in the PBA lineup.

The Sailfish will be back to the diamond on Wednesday, March 9th when they travel to Webber International University for a nine inning contest beginning at 6 pm.

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