Travis Bradley said he knew he was making the most important start of his career when he took the hill for UNC Wilmington on Saturday at Doak Field.
And while he responded well enough to the challenge, the kind of offensive support he got in the first elimination game of the Raleigh Regional was a pitchers dream.
The Seahawks banged out 17 hits, including five home runs, and walloped Sacred Heart 13-4 to advance to Sundays 1 p.m. game against either N.C. State or Vanderbilt.
UNCW (39-22), which is playing in the tournament for the first time in four years, will send Matt Batts (6-4, 2.59) to the hill.
Coming into today, we knew we had to play clean baseball defensively and fill up the strike zone, said Seahawks coach Mark Scalf, whose team avoided recording an error. We felt comfortable in that with Travis on the mound. Hes capable of doing that and today he showed folks in the stands hell fill the zone and allow his defenders behind him to make plays. We were fortunate to put some good swings together and put together some quality at-bats.
Sacred Heart (25-32), champion of the Northeast Conference for the second straight season, came in with the worst record in the 64-team NCAA field. The NEC has never won a game in the tournament.
Its tough, said Pioneers coach Nick Giaquinto, whose team lost to the Wolfpack 16-5 Friday night. This is the second year in a row we made it to the regional and then went two-and-out. Although we know were the four-seed and the underdog, we always show up with expectations of playing that great game and coming back with a victory so its disappointing.
Bradley, a senior out of Fuquay-Varina High, lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with a strikeout and a walk to improve to 1-1 on the season.
I was a little surprised I got the start, said Bradley, who spent two seasons at Brunswick C.C. But after what Coach said to us at the end of the game yesterday (an 8-2 loss to Vanderbilt), I made sure I was ready for whatever was going to happen. I wanted to make sure I went out and threw strikes and let my defense work, and they had a heck of a game behind me.
Drew Farber led the Seahawks at the plate by going 4-for-5 with five RBIs, including his first homer of the season. Andrew Cain added three hits and Tyler Molinaro had a pair of hits with two RBIs including his 16th clout. Thomas Pope had two hits and homered for the second straight day, while Corey Dick chipped in a two-run homer.