‘Cats Advance to Friday With 6-2 Win Over Patriots
DAVIDSON — Jacob Friend was Davidson’s designated hitter Wednesday, and the freshman turned in his best offensive game of the season at a really good time.
Friend went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs to lead the top-seeded Wildcats to a 6-2 win over No. 5 George Mason on the second day of the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship at Wilson Field.
It’s Friend’s first three-hit game, first four-RBI game and first multi-double performance, and he did it from the No. 8 spot in the order.
“As a freshman, that’s super special,” said senior outfielder Trevor Candelaria. “As we’ve shown throughout the whole year, it’s not just one guy or a couple guys. It’s 1 through 9 putting together good at-bats, and he was ready today, and it showed.”
Now 43-11, the Wildcats advanced to Friday’s semifinals, where they’ll face second-seeded VCU at noon. VCU advanced later Wednesday with an 8-4 win over No. 6 Saint Joseph’s.
Friend got the Wildcats on the board with an RBI-single in the fourth inning, driving in Henry Koehler, who had doubled. His sixth-inning double down the right field line drove in Ryan Wilson and Jacob Hinderleider, and his double to right-center in the eighth plated John Hosmer and put the finishing touches on the win.
“We had a good plan coming in on their starting pitcher,” said Friend. “It took us a little bit to start to execute, but once we did, it put us in a good spot to win.”
Candelaria, meanwhile, did his part as well by belting a two-run homer in the seventh. His 13th of the year scored Michael Carico, who led off the inning with a walk.
Nolan DeVos and Bennett Flynn combined for the effort on the mound. DeVos improved to 9-2 with a six-inning effort, allowing four hits and striking out seven before handing the ball to Flynn. He did the rest, throwing three innings, allowing two hits and striking out three.
“Nolan gave us a great start today, and that was important for today and the rest of the week,” said coach Rucker Taylor. “Bennett came in and did what he’s done all year.”
Aside from Friend, Hinderleider was the only Wildcat with multiple hits, including Davidson’s first, a double to left-center in the second. He’s now hit safely in the last 20 games and has two hits in the last four contests, all against George Mason.
The Wildcats have played 34 games at Wilson Field this year, but it was admittedly a different atmosphere Wednesday in the Wildcats’ first tournament contest, though many Davidson players took in some of Tuesday’s action from the stands.
With fans from six other A-10 teams in the park, along with A-10 signage and flags and sponsor tents, Wilson has a different look and feel this week.
There’s also the matter of postseason baseball, which increases the energy a bit.
“It’s different, but it’s great,” said Friend. “The fans were great today. A lot of people came out, and the energy in the dugout has been good all year.”
“It was a great fan turnout, and hopefully we can have even more support on Friday,” said Taylor.