HARRISONBURG, VA. (WECT) - Behind a stellar pitching performance from Zarion Sharpe and a pair of sixth-inning homers from Cole Weiss and Noah Bridges, fifth-seeded UNCW reached the title game of the CAA Baseball Championship for the fifth consecutive year after a 5-1 victory over #3 William & Mary on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Park.
The Seahawks (31-28) will play in Saturday’s 4 p.m. championship game and try to become the first team in 16 years to capture back-to-back CAA crowns. The Tribe (33-21) faces top-seeded Elon at Noon on Saturday with the winner earning a berth against UNCW in the finals.
Sharpe, a junior left-hander, evened his record at 3-3 after scattering seven hits and giving up only one run over a season-long 7.2 innings while striking out seven. Sophomore Nick Bruno earned his first career save after coming out of the bullpen to record the final two outs after the Tribe had loaded the bases.
Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Weiss hit his fourth homer of the year to draw UNCW even. Two batters later, Bridges launched a two-run shot over the fence in right to put the Seahawks ahead to stay, 3-1.
UNCW tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Chris Thorburn sent a triple to the wall in left-center to open the inning and Greg Jones followed with an RBI double to left. Jones advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a balk.
William & Mary nearly rallied in the ninth. Hunter Smith had a leadoff single and the Tribe used a hit batter and walk to load the bases with one out. However, Bruno was able to tally a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.
W&M picked up its only run in the second. Smith lined a leadoff double to right-center and scored on Jack Cone’s base hit to center.
The Tribe got a strong performance from its starting pitcher for the third straight game as freshman left-hander Zach Tsakounis limited the Seahawks to four hits and a run over 5.1 innings while striking out four.
Jones and Weiss each had a pair of hits and drove in a run for the Seahawks. The Tribe was paced offensively by Cone, who was 3-for-3 with an RBI. Smith and Zach Pearson both went 2-for-4