SALISBURY, Md. — Freshman Lane DeLeon pitched seven strong innings and third baseman Chris Gonzalez drove in three runs to lead Delaware State to a 6-2 win over Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the MEAC Baseball Tournament at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on Wednesday morning.
The third-seeded Hornets will face No. 1 seed Norfolk State today at 4 p.m. in a second-round contest. Second-seeded Bethune-Cookman, the defending tournament champ, will play an elimination game on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
DeLeon (5-5), a Sussex Tech High grad, allowed five hits and two runs, while striking out four and walking two in his MEAC Tournament debut. He shut out the Wildcats for the first six innings, but allowed two runs in the seventh to cut the Hornets’ lead to 4-2. Bethune-Cookman had the potential tying run at the plate with two outs in the seventh, but DeLeon retired Jake Welch on a fly ball to right to end the inning.
“Lane was extremely poised and had good command of his pitches,” said Delaware State coach J.P. Blandin, whose team snapped a five-game MEAC Tournament losing streak. “He’s been big for us all season, and proved again today why he’s such a competitor.”
Delaware State (15-27) opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first inning. Charles Dailey was hit by a pitch and David Kimbrough drew a walk from Bethune-Cookman starter Tyler Norris to lead off the inning. Dailey and Kimbrough scored on a one-out single by Gonzalez to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead.
The Hornets opened up a 3-0 lead when Ron Farley led off the fourth inning with his seventh homer of the season.
Delaware State stretched its lead to 4-0 when Dailey singled to lead off the fifth inning and later scored when Gonzalez drove in his third run of the game on a two-out single.
“The guys were very relaxed entering the tournament and it showed with the early clutch hits,” Blandin said. “We just want to keep it going and extend our season, especially for the seniors.”
Bethune-Cookman (16-39) scored its seventh inning runs on a groundout by Rakeem Quinn and a two-out single by Clay Middleton.
The Hornets responded with two runs in the eighth off BCU reliever Michael Austin on a sacrifice fly by Justin Allen and a double by Farley.
Delaware State freshman Darien Ragins shutout the Wildcats in the eighth and ninth innings. Bethune-Cookman loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Ragins retired Demetrius Sims on a grounder to short to end the game.
Gonzalez was two-for-three at the plate, while Farley had two hits in four at bats for the Hornets. David Kimbrough had two hits (two-for-two) and a stolen base each for DSU.
Nathan Bond was two-for-four with two singles for the Wildcats. Norris (3-5) was tagged with the loss for Bethune-Cookman.