Ricigliano’s Gem, Lots of Offense Headline Guilford College Baseball’s Sweep of Royals(Guilford College wins Game Two, 30-13) Skylar Dark(Vandalia Christian School/Isaiah Hairston(Southwest Guilford HS) Key Quaker Contributors

Ricigliano’s Gem, Lots of Offense Headline Baseball’s Sweep of Royals
Quakers pickup first ODAC sweep of Booker-Era in pivotal weekend set
from Bryce Johnson, Director of Athletic Communications at Guilford College

GREENSBORO, N.C. – It was a historic afternoon at McBane Field on Saturday, one that saw the Guilford College baseball team seemingly unable to stop scoring on their way to a doubleheader sweep in resounding fashion, 10-1 and 30-13 over Eastern Mennonite University.

With the pair of victories, the Quakers pick up their fourth-straight win in conference play, and sixth in their last seven to improve to 8-8 against ODAC foes and 15-18 overall. Meanwhile, the Royals fall to 10-18, 6-10 in league play.

Historic may not, in fact, actually quite capture the team’s accomplishments on the day. The doubleheader sweep is the first conference sweep in the Zach Booker-Era, and just the second overall after doing so against the University of Mary Washington last year. Their 40 runs across the two games is the most they have scored in a twin bill since scoring 41 in a double-dip against Medaille on February 23, 2003.

On the single-game level, game two was just the fourth time on record that GC has eclipsed the 30-run plateau in a single game, and it is the first occurrence since they unloaded 34 runs on St. Paul’s over two decades ago, on March 10, 2004. Finally, Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C./Southwest Guilford HS) collected six hits in the second contest, the most by a Quaker since Andrew Lerner had that number against Lynchburg on March 7, 2005. Among his hits was a home run, bringing him to ten on the season as he became the first Quaker with consecutive double-digit home run seasons since 1999 when online records begin. He is also the first GC baseball player with multiple ten-plus homer seasons since Kevin Moore ’00 reached that mark in both 1998 and 2000.

Setting the tone in game one, Marcello Ricigliano (Kernersville, N.C.) shutdown the Eastern Mennonite lineup, permitting just one run, it was earned, on eight hits and a walk, striking out four across 7.0 innings to get the win and improve to 3-4. Keenan Fulwood got battered allowing five runs, all earned in 3.0 innings. He only allowed five hits, but walked two and hit three batters against just one K, taking the loss to fall to 1-3.

Several Quakers enjoyed strong showings in game one, but Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.) was the best of the bunch, reaching in all five plate appearances going 2-for-2 with two doubles in addition to a pair of walks and an HBP. He drove in two runs and scored one. Skyler Dark (Pleasant Garden, N.C./Vandalia Christian School) was tremendous as the table-setter, going 2-of-3 with a triple and two walks, scoring twice while driving in two. Hairston and Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) each had a double and two RBIs in the contest for GC while Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.) reached three different ways, on a single, a walk, and by getting hit by a pitch, stealing a bag, scoring twice, and driving in one. Nick Arnold, Alex Gulisano, Dylan Hall, and Aidan Miller all had two hits with each of them except Hall connecting on a double. Arnold scored the lone EMU run, driven in by Miller.

Receiving the nod in game two, Jacob Ray (Burlington, N.C.) may have been a victim of the GC offensive success as he never found a rhythm in his 3.2 innings of work during which he surrendered six runs, all earned, on seven hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen, although he did strikeout six. Ray did not factor into the decision, and instead it was Jackson Marcellus (Chapel Hill, N.C.) who got the win after throwing 2.1 innings in relief to improve to 3-2. The first of a plethora of pitchers used by EMU in the second game, Jack Dooley ended up on the hook for seven runs, all earned, on four hits, and three walks against a pair of strikeouts falling to 1-4.

All but one Guilford starter had multiple hits in game two with Hairston’s 6-for-7 showing including a double and a homerun leading the way en route to five runs scored and five driven in. Dark pummeled a pair of home runs among his three knocks, scoring five times and driving in a team-high seven runs. Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C) had three hits, all of them doubles to go with two walks, driving in six. Like game one, Williams reached in all of his plate appearances and Grayson Tudor (Reidsville, N.C.) matched the feat. The former had two hits, including a double, and four walks and the latter fell a double shy of the cycle with three hits and two bases on balls drawn. Miller had two hits, driving in three for EMU in game two and Ethan Spraker also drove in a trio of runs in the game.

Guilford enjoyed a successful first inning. Marcello Ricigliano (Kernersville, N.C.) tossed a nice top half, inducing a couple groundouts to short before permitting a couple singles, the first to right then the second of the infield variety. He escaped the jam, however, thanks to a fine backhand play defensively by Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.), who ranged into the hole and made terrific throw on the move to retire the side. The home half started promisingly with Skyler Dark (Pleasant Garden, N.C.) drawing a free pass from Keenan Fulwood but a twin killing erased that. Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C.) followed by striking out swinging, but the pitch in the dirt scooted all the way to the backstop, keeping the door open, and Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.) made it hurt, splitting the gap in left-center. Off on contact, Hairston was able to fly around all 270 feet to grab the 1-0 advantage.

The second inning was even more enjoyable for the Quakers, with a perfect top half featuring a pair of backwards K’s giving way to a run-scoring bottom of the stanza. Ethan George (Burlington, N.C.) sparked the rally ripping a single into right before Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) and Carter Blum (McLeansville, N.C.) each were hit by a pitch on either side of a sacrifice bunt by Nick Boles (Madison, N.C.). Dark brought in a pair, ripping a single through the right side of the infield to extend the lead. They would come just a few feet away from some more runs, as Hairston drove one to the warning track in lef- center, but it was hauled in to retire the side.

EMU did get a runner on via an error in the top of the third, but he was nullified by getting caught stealing before the offense went back to work in the bottom half. Williams got drilled by a pitch, and Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C) dumped a single into center. Guilford’s second executed SAC bunt in as many innings set the table for Burrough who tucked a liner inside the chalk down the rightfield line, driving in a pair to make it 5-1. Threatening for more with runners on the corners and still just one out, the Royals turned two, catching both runners on a first-and-third double steal attempt to get out of the inning.

Eastern Mennonite got on the board in the fourth. Nick Arnold doubled to left-center to open the inning and Aidan Miller snuck a two-bagger under George’s glove at third to score him, but in need of a shutdown inning, now from reliever Alec Riles, they would not get it. Dark tripled with one away before Sumner bashed a Baltimore chop grounder off the front of the plate, but over the drawn-in infield to plate the run. He took second on a terrific dirtball read as Hairston was retired before Williams, for the second time in the game, ensured the opportunity would not be squandered, smoking one off the tip of the third baseman’s glove for a double, bringing the score to 7-1.

Things settled down for a while from there. Justus Feeser escaped two-on with one out jams in each of the next two innings in relief. Meanwhile, Ricigliano worked around a two-out double in the fifth thanks to a snow-cone grab by Boles on a frozen rope to right-center. Then in the sixth he avoided damage after a pair of one-out singles by getting a soft lineout to first and a strikeout. His biggest jam came in the seventh as a bloop single settled in down the rightfield line, a man reached on an error, and a walk filled the bags with Royals with two outs. He’d escape, however, by getting a fielder’s choice.

Guilford added some insurance in the eighth. Dark led off by battling back from a 1-2 hole to receive a nine-pitch base on balls, then Sumner got hit by a pitch. Hairston, held in check all game to that point, drove one to the gap in center left by a swung-around EMU outfield for a double, bringing both runs across the plate. After Williams walked, and George hit into a fielders choice, Burrough hit one on the ground to first, but it was mishandled allowing Hairston to cross the plate as the good guys reached double-digits.

Meanwhile, Reese Baker (Ashland, Va.) tossed the final two frames, allowing some traffic, but no runs to secure a 10-1 victory.

Eastern Mennonite jumped on the scoreboard right away against Jacob Ray (Burlington, N.C.). Three-straight singles, all of them softly hit off the bats of Dylan Hall, Alex Gulisano, and Nick Arnold opened the game for the visitors as they promptly loaded the bases. Skyler Dark (Pleasant Garden, N.C./Vandalia Christian School) saved a run with a sliding grab coming in on a sinking line drive before Aidan Miller dumped one into left-center to score two. Ray fanned the next two, escaping the jam without any further damage and the Guilford offense would help him out by striking back in the bottom of the inning.

Jack Dooley struggled with his command essentially from the jump. Dark struck out but still reached on a wild pitch before a stretch of 15 pitches that only saw three strikes, one of which was a flyout, as GC accepted three consecutive walks, the last of which, drawn by Chase Wade (Archdale, N.C), forced in a run. Dooley’s third wild pitch of the inning tied the score before an Ethan George (Burlington, N.C.) single and a Jordan Burrough (Greensboro, N.C.) sacrifice fly flipped what was a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the first, into a two-run advantage.

Guilford added four more in the second. Grayson Tudor (Reidsville, N.C.) got it started by nubbing one off the end of the bat, but it trickled away enough for him to reach on an infield hit. He stole second and scored when Dark smoked a single under the first baseman’s glove. Dark then also stole second, but it did not matter, as two batters later Isaiah Hairston (High Point, N.C.) ambushed the first pitch and cranked a no-doubter to straight-away right bringing Dooley’s start to an abrupt end after just 1.1 innings. They tacked on another as Aaron Williams (Mocksville, N.C.) singled, Wade drew his second walk in as many innings, and after a fielders choice retired Williams at third, Burrough brought home Wade on a grounder that snuck through and into center.

Tudor tripled to open the third, and after a pitching change, he was able to lightly trot home on a wild pitch a few tosses later. Michael Sumner (Mooresville, N.C.) would single and come all the way around on a double inside the first base bag later in the inning, extending the lead to 10-2.

Things tightened up in the fourth as a double, a walk, and a hit batsman loaded things up with one out. Gulisano connected on a sacrifice fly then Arnold doubled down the leftfield line, plating another and prompting a pitching change. Jackson Marcellus (Chapel Hill, N.C.) entered and allowed the inherited runners to score on an Ethan Spraker single, bringing the score to 10-6, but Guilford had an answer. Following some debate regarding a foul ball that was ruled to have gone off his foot in the box, Burrough singled the other way. A sacrifice bunt advanced him before Tudor walked and Dark got an 0-1 pitch to drive, launching one over the fence in right for his second homer of the season, bringing the Guilford tally to a baker’s dozen. Hairston singled and Williams walked before Wade brought them both home with a drive into the gap in right-center to extend the lead to 15-6.

Tudor’s first career homerun in the fifth made the lead double-digits before Eastern Mennonite got the two back in the top of the sixth, but the Quakers put it out of reach in the home half. Hairston singled, Williams walked, and Wade doubled them both home to open the inning. George singled in another and after the first two outs were recorded, Tudor walked flipping over the lineup. Dark lifted one to shallow left but it was dropped by the leftfielder, allowing a run to score, the ball was thrown away trying to get Tudor advancing to third, allowing him to cross the plate as well making the score 22-8. A Sumner RBI-double, Hairston RBI-single, and Williams RBI-double pilled it on, making it 25-8 before the inning was through.

A Dark three-run homer, his second of the game to right-center, and a Wade two-run double got Guilford to 30 runs scored before EMU scored five garbage-time runs in the eighth and ninth to bring the final tally to 30-13.

The Quakers play their final nonconference matchup next, making the trip over to Fayetteville, North Carolina to battle Methodist University on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 4:00 PM.