The Ted Falkner era of USCB baseball began on Saturday, and the Sand Sharks delivered their new head coach an encouraging start.
After dropping a 2-1 decision in the opener, Matt Malatesta pitched five scoreless innings in the second game of the doubleheader, earning a 4-0 victory and a split with Milligan at Columbia International.
The Buffaloes got on the scoreboard first in game one, as Richard Polinsky grounded out to score Justin Greene in the second after a pair of walks and a bunt loaded the bases. The Sand Sharks squandered an opportunity in the third, leaving the bases loaded.
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USCB struggled to replicate that threat in the next three frames, but came through in the seventh and final inning. A sacrifice bunt proved to be effective, as Leandy Castro drove in Marino Sorbara with two outs to tie the game.
But the Buffaloes had the last word. Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Anthony Guzman ended it with a big fly on a 3-1 count to earn the walk-off 2-1 win.
But game two was all Sand Sharks. After losing much of his junior season last year, Malatesta came out on a mission, throwing five strong innings and striking out three to keep Mulligan off the board.
After failing to capitalize off a pair of walks in the fourth, USCB exploded for four runs in the sixth. Sorbara reached on an error to get the big inning started, then Brian Meyer reached on a bunt single, and Castro kept the chain moving with a single to load the bases.
A flurry of mistakes doomed the Buffaloes, as Clint Sellers and Alexander Humphrey were both hit by pitches, giving the Sand Sharks a 2-0 lead. Then Nick Milhan doubled the advantage, knocking one to left to plate two and put USCB up 4-0. Griffin Cassell and Eamonn Collins finished the job on the mound, throwing an inning each of scoreless ball to complete the shutout.
Castro went 2-for-6 with an RBI in the doubleheader to lead the offense, and Milhan delivered a huge blow late in game two, leading the squad with a pair of RBIs.
The Sand Sharks (1-1) travel to Elizabeth City, N.C., to face Mid-Atlantic Christian and Carolina University for a three-game set next weekend.
Written by Wes Kerr