After a brutal winter in Vineland, NJ, the Dukes finally took to the diamond this week in Myrtle Beach, SC as part of the Cal Ripken Experience. In the season opener, the Dukes dropped a 1-0 game to John Wood Community College, mustering only two total hits over the seven innings. The positive takeaway was right-handed hurler and West Chester University transfer Jon Wilkins. Wilkins threw five innings, allowing the game's only run on two hits, striking out five John Wood batters.
The #7th ranked team in the country quickly shook off the rust in their next contest, a 4-0 win over Carl Sandburg College behind the arm of Will Latcham (1-0). Latcham dealt six innings of scoreless baseball, sprinkling three hits, and recorded six strikeouts. A two-run double from Joe Zanghi helped to key the Dukes victory.
Later that afternoon, Cumberland kept the momentum going with an 8-4 win over Henry Ford College. Hammonton native Justin Smith (1-0) picked up the win in 5 and 1/3 innings work. Smith surrendered just one earned run, allowing five hits, and striking out five. At the plate, John Schoelkopf and Jake Carr each went 2 for 2, with Schoelkopf driving in a pair and crossing the plate twice. Returning Outfielder and First Baseman, Arturo Ocasio added three hits on the day. Carr and Ocasio each scored a run and drove in one.
The Dukes continued their successful combination of solid pitching and timely hitting, wining their next three, putting their current win streak at five games. In 5-2 wins over Dean College and Sauk Valley, and a 6-1 victory over Danville Area CC, starting pitchers Justin Geri, Dalton Mayberry, and Nick Caregnato each recorded their first win of the year on the hill. Geri and Caregnato each pitched five innings and struck out two apiece in their starts. Mayberry, the Marist College transfer, went the distance for his first complete game of the 2015 season. He also struck out four Sauk Valley batters.
Through the first six, Carr (7 for 14) and Schoelkopf (8 for 16) are leading the Dukes in batting average at .500. Schoelkopf has scored six times in that span and returning sophomore Tyler Mixon has crossed the plate four times. The Dukes look to continue push their current streak to six wins in a Friday Night game against Triton College.