Clutch Pitching Secures 2-1 Opening Day Win Over CSN
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Just one well-placed two-RBI double proved to be enough offense to lift the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to the second opening day victory under the guidance of Head Coach Jason Beverlin, as the pitching staff held its own to complete the 2-1 win over Cal State Northridge, Friday night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
In a showdown of two defense-oriented teams in the Valentine’s day matchup, the scoreboard remained empty through three innings, until the Wildcats finally broke through with a big scoring play that would ultimately place B-CU in position to claim the win.
“It was just a good baseball game all around,” Beverlin noted after the game.
Senior left fielder Eros Modena led off the bottom of the fourth with a single up the middle, reaching second by sliding underneath the tag for a steal. Senior right fielder Josh Johnson reached base on balls, setting the table for a Jordan Robinson two-RBI pulled double down the left field line to give B-CU the 2-0 advantage.
Making his first start with the Wildcats, transfer Keith Zuniga handled business on the mound through six innings, but the seventh proved troublesome. Although the redshirt junior right-hander allowed a runner into scoring position in each of the first four innings, Zuniga kept the Matadors off the board while racking up seven strikeouts. In the seventh, with CSN’s William Colantono reaching base on balls and Nick Murphy reaching as a hit batter, an error on a sacrifice bunt opened the door for the Matadors as one run scored on the play.
However, reliever John Sever quickly slammed it. The junior transfer lefty registered three strikeouts to end the frame, maintaining B-CU’s 2-1 lead. Sever added two more K’s in the eighth, and battled through an 18-pitch final frame before putting down CSN center fielder Ranny Lowe swinging, preserving the one-run victory.
“Keith [Zuniga] did a great job of setting the tone,” Beverlin said. “He attacked the strike zone and worked both sides of the plate, then John [Sever] came in with three big strikeouts and got us out of that inning, then closed the door.”
Entering the season with an expected role as a starter, Sever is happy to help the team in whatever capacity he’s needed.
“I just like throwing the ball,” Sever said, “however they can use me.”
Offensively, Modena and Johnson paced the Wildcats, batting 2-for-4 and 2-for-3, respectively, Robinson was 1-for-4 with the game-winning pair of RBI.
Zuniga (1-0) earned the win in his inaugural start with the Wildcats, while Sever earned the save, securing six strikeouts in three innings on the mound.
“It’s good to get that first one out of the way,” Zuniga said of the victory. “Whether [Sever] gets the win or I get the win, it doesn’t matter, we all won as a team.”
The series between the Wildcats (1-0) and the Matadors (0-1) continues on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.