Durapau Leads B-CU to MEAC Advance on 4-0 UMES Shutout
NORFOLK, Va. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (23-31) opened the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Baseball Championships on the winning track, using timely hitting to shut out Maryland Eastern Shore (13-34) behind a gem of a pitching performance by senior Montana Durapau at Marty L. Miller Field on Wednesday (May 14).
“Any time you come away from that first game with a win, it’s big,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. “They did a great job of coming out and taking care of business.”
Durapau set the tone early, registering three of his career-high 14 strikeouts in the first inning, scattering four hits in his eight-frame outing. It was the most strikeouts for the Wildcats since Ali Simpson in 2010, and the highest count in a MEAC Tournament contest since North Carolina A&T’s Chris Eggers fanned 15 Delaware State batters in 2007, also in Norfolk.
“He wasn’t going to be denied and he was definitely going to find a way,” Beverlin said of his senior right-hander.
Though the Wildcats collected hits in each of the first two frames, B-CU failed to put runs on the board until the third, as third baseman Jordan Robinson scored on left fielder Bryant Munoz’ bloop RBI single into shallow left field to claim the lead at 1-0.
UMES starter Jesse Stinnett had a solid outing as well, stopping the B-CU momentum and holding off the Wildcats until the seventh. Shortstop Shaun McCarty sparked a two-out push with a single up the middle, touching the plate for the 2-0 advantage on right fielder Josh Johnson’s RBI single through the right side.
The Wildcats chipped away at Stinnett and capitalized in the eighth, as first baseman Eric Sams reached as a hit batter and second baseman Matt Noble followed with a single. Facing the two-out situation, Robinson took the first pitch deep to the left center wall for a two-run triple, granting the Wildcats the 4-0 lead.
“Getting those two runs late was big because it gave us the opportunity to get someone else in on the mound,” Beverlin noted.
Riley O’Brien took over on the mound for the Wildcats in the ninth and preserved the shutout in Durapau’s 10th victory of the season. In addition to the career high, Durapau (10-1) moves into a tie for second on the B-CU program list for wins in a season, and sixth for season strikeouts.
“I was real excited,” Durapau said. “This is the time of year that everybody waits for, and it’s finally here, so I’m just trying to embrace it.”
At the plate, Robinson topped the Wildcats, hitting 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Munoz also hit 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“I felt good, I felt confident,” Robinson said. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to bring the title back to Daytona Beach. It’s something to build on. We had a lot of good things happen today and I felt like it gave the team a lot of confidence.”
With the victory, the Wildcats move on to the second round of the MEAC Baseball Championships, set for a 12:30 p.m. Thursday (May 15) matchup with tournament host Norfolk State (20-24), which defeated North Carolina Central, 6-1, in the opening game.
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