CNU falls to Misericordia in low-scoring thriller, season ends in Super Regional

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Courtesy of CNU Athletics) — Despite one final impressive showing from fifth-year senior Dylan Weber on the mound, the 10th-ranked Christopher Newport baseball team saw its season come to a close on Saturday afternoon when 11th-ranked Misericordia held off the Captains, 2-1. Weber struck out 10 in a complete game effort for the hard-luck loss as he finished out his season with a 9-2 overall record and 1.66 ERA.

Playing in the program’s first-ever Super Regional, the Captains closed out the year with a 29-12 overall record including an 18-7 mark at home. Misericordia advances to the NCAA Division III College Baseball Championship for the second straight year after earning the win in front of over 300 fans on Saturday, improving to 38-9 in 2024.

The Cougars scratched across two runs in the bottom of the first inning as the first two batters to come to the plate against Weber reached and eventually came around to score. After that, the Sterling, Va. was near unhittable including a run of retiring 16 batters in a row between the end of the second until there was two outs in the seventh. He finished strong, striking out two in the eighth to cap off his seventh double-digit strikeout performance of the year to set the new Christopher Newport single season record at 140. Additionally, he became the first Captain to eclipse 400 strikeouts in a career and closed out his illustrious tenure with 404 punchouts. Weber becomes just the third NCAA Division III pitcher to reach 400 career strikeouts joining Marietta’s Matt DeSalvo (603) and Methodist’s Brian Ford (439).

Misericordia took advantage of the early baserunners as Garrett McIlhenney led off with a hit-by-pitch, the 88th of his career, and promptly stole second and third on the next two pitches. Jack Regenye singled into center to plate the first run of the game and then stole second himself and advanced to third on a fly ball to center field. Weber induced a groundball out by Connor Maryniak that produced the final run of the game for the Cougars, but it would prove to be enough as Maryniak also pitched a strong game for the visitors.

The junior, who was named the MAC Freedom Player of the Year as a utility man playing shortstop and starting on the mound, answered every momentum-shifting inning by Weber with one of his own. He faced only ten batters in the first 3.1 innings before Josh Reinhold finally got to him with a single into center field. Zach Dzarnowski followed with a single into right and Lincoln Lubsen loaded the bases with one out with a walk. Unfortunately, CNU could only get one run across when Ayden Stuffel hit a soft groundball to first base, sending Reinhold to the plate. Maryniak wiggled out of the jam with another groundball and the threat was limited to just one run.

The Captains outhit Misericordia, 8-4, including a one-out triple by Jake Benedict in the top of the seventh inning. The sophomore would be left stranded 90 feet away from tying the game, though, as Maryniak responded with back-to-back K’s to end the inning.

In the eighth inning, the Cougars would turn to their senior closer, Matt Lanzendorfer, for the second straight day as he attempted to close out the two-inning save. In the eighth, Sam Benedict led off with a single into left field and Reinhold added his third hit of the game two batters later to get the game-tying run in scoring position again. Lanzendorfer buckled down for Misericordia in the jam and struck out the next two batters to leave two more runners stranded for CNU.

In the ninth, Stuffel ripped a hard shot up the middle but the Misericordia second baseman made a nice play to snag it for the out. Jake Benedict added another extra-base hit when he pulled a double into left field to keep the Captains’ hopes alive with one out in the final frame. Unfortunately for fans of the home team, Lanzendorfer again responded with back-to-back strikeouts to finish out the inning, the game, and the series win.

In two games against the Cougars, the Captains surrendered just five runs on nine hits in 17.0 innings pitched. Weber wrapped up his second complete game effort of the season with a line of 8.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 earned runs allowed, 3 walks, and 10 strikeouts. He finishes his CNU career ranked second all-time in victories with a 27-12 overall record and a 3.38 career ERA. He started more games than any Captain in program history, with 57, and also tops the strikeout charts while ranking third all-time in career innings pitched with 309.0.

Reinhold led the offense with a 3-for-4 performance and one run scored while Jake Benedict was 2-for-4 with a pair of extra-base hits. Dzarnowski, Stuffel, and Sam Benedict rounded out the base hits in the game as CNU out-hit Misericordia, 8-4.

The Captains reached the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time under head coach John Harvell and captured the team’s fourth NCAA Regional Championship. The team reached the Super Regional round for the first time.

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