Norwich Back atop Futures League with Tuesday Victory

The Norwich Sea Unicorns stayed hot offensively, winning big in Vermont taking the series opener 11-6 at Centennial Field. Norwich’s offensive eruption last night returned the Sea Unicorns back atop the Futures League standings with a 10-5 record through 15 games.

It was a monster 2nd inning for the Sea Unicorns offense, striking for 5 runs to take an early 5-1 lead. The Sea Unicorns sent five batters to the plate before an out was recorded in the frame and held a 2-0 lead before Vermont starter Jackson Beatie was able to spot his first out. Norwich manufactured their offense playing small ball with 4 of their 5 hits in the inning coming via infield knocks and took advantage of a pair of walks as well as an error committed by the Lake Monster second baseman. The 5-run inning for the visitors was the knockout blow for Beattie who was later replaced in the third.

The offensive rampage for Norwich continued despite the pitching change made by Vermont in the third. Reliever Jack McLaughlin was only able to record 5 outs in his appearance surrendering 6 runs on 6 hits. Norwich did all their damage during innings two through four, adding a pair in the third and four more in the fourth. It was a commanding 11-5 lead for Norwich after 4 innings and that would be all the fuel Norwich would need to cruise to a series opening victory in Vermont. In fact, 15 of the 16 runs scored overall occurred during the first 4 innings.

Norwich starter Callen Powers went 2 innings in his start and allowed a pair of runs on 6 hits. Manager Kevin Murphy made his first call to the bullpen in the third inning for reliever Andrew Gaines.  Unfortunately, the outing for Gaines was marred by an error committed by his third baseman setting the stage for a 3-run 3rd inning for the host. Of the 3 runs that crossed the plate only 1 was charged to Gaines.

Gavin Hawkes was electric in his long relief role leading Norwich to their series opening victory. Hawkes secured his 3rd win of the summer tossing 4 innings of shutout baseball. Over his four innings of work, Hawkes punched out 8 and allowed just 4 hits. On the season the Yardley, Pennsylvania native holds an impressive ERA of 0.77 in 11.2 innings along with 14 strikeouts.

Offensively Norwich received contributions throughout their lineup in the 11-run offensive explosion on 12 hits. 7 of Norwich’s 9 starters recorded at least a hit and four different players enjoyed multi-hit performances. Christian Stratis who was named Sea Unicorns Player of the Week continued to surge at the plate leading the way with 3 hits last night along with 2 RBI’s. Stratis is now batting .447 on the season and has RBIs in 3 straight games along with a 10-game hitting streak to begin his summer. Brennan Hyde also had a nice day at the plate with a pair of hits and drove in 2 more runs to give the Rutgers transfer a team leading 13 RBIs which ranks 2nd in the league.

These same two teams will clash once again to close out the 2-game series in Vermont. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. EST. Tim Lewis will get the baseball tonight for Norwich and Will Harrigan for Vermont to conclude the series.