HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C.-- The Denison pitchers battled, and then they battled some more. The tandem of starting pitcher Perley Provost and reliever Mikey Rivera worked out of one jam after another but the Denison bats remained dormant as Christopher Newport defeated Denison 5-1 on the first day of the NCAA South Regional at Ting Park.
Playing in the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, Denison showed some determination throughout but the bats failed to cooperate.
CNU tied the game at 1-1 on an RBI single by Jordan Mason. In the sixth, the Captains broke the tie with a pair of runs on a single by Conner Clark and a wild pitch that plated Mason from third base. After the single by Clark, Rivera entered the game in relief of Provost. With the rain falling at a steady clip, Rivera's wild pitch sparked a discussion between the umpires and a 90-minute rain delay ensued.
Affter the delay, Rivera returned to the game with the bases loaded and proceeded to strike out back-to-back hitters to get Denison into the seventh.
Momentum shifted to the Big Red after Rivera's magic act and the offense put runners on first and second with nobody out. McAuliffe's sacrifice bunt moved Paine to third and Jack Blanchard to third but consecutive strikeouts by Packert got CNU out of the jam.
Christopher Newport finished with 14 hits but left 21 runners on-base thanks to Provost and Rivera.
Provost suffered the loss and dropped to 10-2 on the year. Thomas Packert got the win and improved to 9-1 while striking out eight. Denison finished with five hits and was led by Blanchard who was 2-for-3.
With the loss, Denison will play Randolph-Macon at 3 p.m. on Friday.