Hofstra defeats VCU but is eliminated by Delaware

Hofstra baseball player T.J. Thomas throws during practice. Hofstra baseball player T.J. Thomas throws during practice. (Undated file photo) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Hofstra's school record-setting baseball season ended in one disastrous inning. Ahead by five runs entering the seventh, the Pride gave up 10 runs on nine hits in that inning Friday night in a 12-9 loss to Delaware that eliminated Hofstra from the Colonial Athletic Association baseball tournament.

"When that kind of stuff happens, I couldn't believe it," said senior rightfielder Danny Poma, the CAA player of the year. "Terrible time, an elimination game in the conference tournament."

The third-seeded Blue Hens (30-26), who beat second-seeded Hofstra, 11-3, on Thursday after scoring seven runs in the third, scored seven of their 10 runs in the seventh with two outs Friday. The nearly-30- minute half-inning was capped by a pair of two-run singles by Alex Maruri and Joe Giacchino.

"It just seemed nothing went right in that inning," Hofstra coach John Russo said. "And then right after they got a few breaks, they capitalized on it with hits. And everything snowballed into something we couldn't stop."

Hofstra (34-22) had beaten VCU, 4-2, earlier Friday in its first elimination game. Delaware will play top-seeded UNC Wilmington at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Blue Hens need to beat Wilmington twice to win the CAA title.

Hofstra set a school record for wins, finished second in the conference in the regular season and reached the postseason for the first time since 2005. "We definitely put Hofstra baseball on the map," said Poma, who became the seventh player in CAA history to reach the 100-hit plateau in a season Friday. "This program is going to take off from this point. It's a tough one right now to swallow."

Trailing 12-7 after the 10-run inning, Hofstra tried to rally in the eighth and ninth. The Pride loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Delaware righthander Stephen Richter recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Kenny Jackson and Kevin Flynn.

Richter started the ninth with consecutive walks, and Hofstra scored twice before Jeff Murray struck out Jared Hammer looking to end the game.

Against VCU, Hofstra scored three runs in the first three innings and rode a gutsy start by freshman pitcher Nick Kozlowski to stay alive. Kozlowski allowed one run in five innings.

"To be a freshman in only his fourth career start, I thought it was unbelievable," Russo said. "I thought he pounded the strike zone early with his fastball and then in even counts or behind in the count, he was able to throw his breaking ball for a strike. He got into trouble a few times and he was able to make a big pitch. I think he really showed a lot of character on the mound and a lot of toughness."

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