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Baseball

’Jacks top Region XIX power Brookdale
Nowottnick battles his way to 3-1 win with defense’s help

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Nik Nowottnick allowed many batters to reach base, but he only let one cross home plate.

Nowottnick’s escape-artist abilities, and the stellar work of the defense backing him up, were the keys to Chesapeake College’s 3-1 baseball victory over traditional Region XIX power Brookdale (N.J.) Community College. Nowottnick gave up six hits, walked five batters and hit two, but he took a shutout into the seventh inning Saturday and then survived one final Brookdale threat.

"Nik struggled with his command a bit, but he was always able to make pitches, and we were able to make plays behind him, to get out of jams," said Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski. "He made some great pitches when he needed them the most."

The Skipjacks received an absolute pitching gem from Spencer Gillis on Monday as Gillis pitched six innings in a 5-0 shutout against McDaniel College’s junior varsity. Gillis struck out three, walked one, and gave up two hits before Coty Mulder (strikeout, two hits allowed) pitched the seventh.

"Spencer pitched a great game, we made all the plays defensively, and guys came up and got timely hits," said Szymanski.

Between the Brookdale and McDaniel triumphs, the Skipjacks (8-3) dropped a 6-4 decision to Edgewood College’s junior varsity on Monday.

Winning pitcher Luke Hillmann threw a complete-game seven-hitter with six strikeouts and just one walk, and Edgewood’s Mike Gura provided a lot of the offense by going 3-for-3, scoring one run and driving in another. Kam Stewart and Matt Schotanus each went 2-for-4 and scored a run for Chesapeake.

Chesapeake manufactured runs in the first, fifth and seventh innings against Brookdale, getting a pair of run-scoring sacrifice flies from Ricky Brady and another one from Brendon Burch. That allowed Nowottnick to take a 3-0 lead into the seventh – and it almost wasn’t enough.

Pinch-hitter Joe Melduzzi singled with one out and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bryan Sanchez. Alex Nieges followed with a two-out, run-scoring hit and Brookdale used a hit batsman and a walk to load the bases.

Nowottnick, however, got out of this final jam as Juan Tavarez grounded out to end the game.

Stewart scored two of the Skipjacks’ three runs against Brookdale.

"They’re pretty much a powerhouse in their region," Szymanski said of Brookdale. "This was a great team win – good pitching from Nik, excellent defense and timely hitting."

Chesapeake took a 1-0 lead against McDaniel on Joel Rowe’s first-inning sacrifice fly, then broke the game open with a three-run fourth highlighted by Stewart’s two-run double.

Ryan Apodaca went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and a run scored.

The Skipjacks play Century (Minn.) College and Triton (Ill.) College (0-2) on Wednesday.

Century, a second-year program, went 30-14 in 2011 and is 11-2 so far this season. The Mighty Wood Ducks - that’s really their college’s nickname - are coached by Dwight Kotila, who has over 400 coaching victories and has taken two other Minnesota community colleges (Riverland Community College and Ridgewater College) to the NJCAA Division III World Series a total of seven times.

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