VIRGINIA BEACH -- A young Virginia Wesleyan College baseball team that endured its share of heartaches during the season, notched its most gratifying victory of the campaign on Friday.
The Marlins played an inspired game from start to finish and pinned a 7-4 loss on the nation's No. 2-ranked Christopher Newport University Captains on Marlins Field. The VWC victory gave the Hampton Roads rivals a split in the season series.
Virginia Wesleyan (9-22) had one hero after another in the victory, beginning with junior Matt Ittner (Virginia Beach/Frank W. Cox), who produced the perfect day at the plate. He hit 4-for-4, scoring three runs, and made two sterling throws on the run from third to first base for crucial outs in the CNU's eighth inning.
Junior Josh Miller (Norfolk, Va./Greenbrier Christian) also stepped up big time, hitting 3-for-3, highlighted by a first-inning triple to right that gave VWC a 1-0 lead. He also came up with several big outs from his shortstop position.
Senior Anthony Siracusa (Auburn, N.Y./Auburn) added to the effort with two big-time hits, one down each baseline, driving in three runs. His first shot was a two-run triple to right in the fifth inning and the second was a run-scoring double down the left line in the seventh. He ended the game with a spectacular diving stop at first base to rob the Captains of a potential extra-base hit with two runners on.
And then there were the VWC pitchers, rookie Justin Payne (Groton, N.Y./Lansing) and senior Mike Carissimo (Nutley, N.J./Nutley). Both turned in outstanding efforts, with Payne pitching to 33 batters, giving up two walks and scattering eight hits, and allowing four earned runs. Carissimo finished, facing 10 batters, striking out one. He allowed just two hits.
CNU (30-7), the 2012 USA South Athletic Conference champion, led 3-1 after 4.5 innings, when Virginia Wesleyan's bats came to life in the bottom of the fifth. The Marlins used three hits, including Siracusa's triple, to move in front 4-3.
CNU came back in the top of the seventh to tie the score on a sacrifice fly by Matt Shoemaker (Newport News, Va./Menchville), scoring Billy Steel (Mechanicsville, Va.Lee-Davis), who led off and reached base when he was hit by a pitch.
But, VWC pulled away in the bottom of the same inning, tacking on three more runs for the 7-4 lead. Siracusa ripped his RBI double, Alex Lambert (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) sacrificed to score Miller, who was hit by a pitch, and Brett Sutyrk (Bath, N.Y./Haverling) stroke an RBI single to score Siracusa.
CNU was shut down by the VWC pitching and defense in the final two innings as the Captains managed only two singles.
VWC out-hit CNU 11-10, including a pair of hits from Sutryk. Shannon Mark (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock), Luke Saunders (Lancaster, Va./Lancaster), and Steven Lindenmuth (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) all had two hits for CNU.
Nick Santalucia (Chesterfield, Va./Clover Hill), Richard Lindsay (Manassas, Va./Brentsville), and Ryan Fleischmann (Oak Hill, Va./Oakton) all pitched for the Captains.
Virginia Wesleyan competes again on Saturday, April 21, hosting Eastern Mennonite University in an Old Dominion Athletic Conference twinbill starting at 12 p.m. in Senior Day. The Marlins close the regular season at home on Sunday, April 22, hosting Shenandoah University at 2 p.m.