HIGH POINT — Campbell captured its sixth Big South Conference baseball tournament championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament by sweeping a doubleheader Saturday against Charleston Southern at Truist Point.
After a loss on Thursday, Campbell reeled off four wins in two days to claim the crown, doing so with 10-6 and 3-2 victories on Saturday.
Zach Neto was named Tournament MVP, with Jarrod Belbin, Waldy Arias, Connor Denning, Cade Kuehler and Ty Cummings also being named to the all-tournament team.
Neto batted .438 with six RBIs on the week, including a mammoth 2-run blast in the first inning of the final game. He also pitched the final one and two-thirds innings against USC Upstate on Friday night to earn a save.
This team now joins 1988, 1990, 2014, 2018 and 2019 as the program’s Big South tournament champs.
The two wins took Campbell to 40-17 on the year, the fist 40-win season since 2014.
Campbell jumped out to a 6-1 lead after one inning and never looked back. After a wild pitch scored a quick run, Connor Denning took one dead-center off the batter’s eye to give the Camels an early cushion. Tyler Halstead scored in the inning on a wild pitch.
Buccaneer miscues were a big boost for the Camels. Of the 10 runs scored, only five were via RBIs, with five more scoring on wild pitches or CSU errors.
The first-inning offensive production was nearly all the offense Campbell needed getting strong pitching from Cade Boxrucker and Cummings. Boxrucker worked four-plus innings, allowing just two earned runs. He ran into trouble in the fifth, loading the bases with nobody out, but Cummings cleaned things up, getting a strikeout and 6-3 double play to escape.
Cummings allowed four runs over the next five innings. He left multiple runners stranded in the sixth, eighth and ninth.
Campbell rounded out the scoring with two wild pitches in the third, plus a bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Denning, Logan Jordan and Dalen Thompson (Triton) all had 2-hit games for the Camels. Campbell had nine hits and 11 walks.
Neto saw his 29-game hit streak come to an end, but was walked three times, drove in a run and scored.
Neto wasted no time starting a new hit streak in the winner-take-all game, blasting a two-run shot out of the stadium in the first inning. That turned out to be nearly all of Campbell’s offense in the low-scoring affair.
The only other Campbell run scored on a squeeze bunt put down by Lawson Harrill in the fifth inning.
The Campbell pitching staff stepped up to hold the Buccaneers to two runs on six hits. Aaron Rund made a start for the second day in a row and turned in five and one-third innings, allowing just two runs and striking out a season-high eight.
After Rund loaded the bases in the sixth, Jake Murray picked him up and escaped with just one run across to preserve the Campbell lead. The following frame Murray and Garrett Kangas found themselves in trouble, and it was Cade Kuehler who came in and started a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play.
Cameron O’Brien was lights out in the final two innings, as he did not allow a base runner and struck out two in the ninth to earn the save.
Bryce Arnold made his first start since Mar. 29 and didn’t miss a beat, going 3-for-4 on the day.
The Camels await their NCAA regional destination. The 16 regional host sites will be announced Sunday at 8:30 p.m. The full NCAA Selection show to determine Campbell’s next stop is set for Monday at noon on ESPN2.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)