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Hornets clinch conference title

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Daily staff report

WINCHESTER -- No. 1/1 Shenandoah University clinched its first-ever USA South Conference regular season baseball title with an 11-3 victory over Averett Sunday afternoon.

Shenandoah (27-2, 11-1 USA South) wasted little time in jumping on the Cougars (21-17, 5-7); SU scored six runs in the first on four hits and three crucial Averett errors.

The three miscues led to five of the six runs being unearned for the Hornets.

Sophomore Kurt Krout, the ninth SU player to hit in the frame, plated the final three runs with a double off the wall in left-center.

One inning later, senior All-America Greg Van Sickler hit his fourth home run of the week (and third of the weekend) with a solo shot to center.

The Hornets added four more in the sixth, highlighted by a Cory Nelson two-run HR to center, before AU scored three in the ninth to prevent the shutout.

Jordan Kidd was responsible for two of those runs thanks to a two-run HR to left center.

Junior Patrick Moore (1-0), who came on in relief of starter Vince Claudio with two outs in the fifth, earned the win.

Moore gave up one hit and one walk in 1 1/3 before Mike Smith pitched the final three innings for his first save of the spring.

Claudio had two strikeouts and allowed two hits before tiring in the fifth. He walked four batters in the frame but helped himself out by picking one off of first immediately after catcher Keaton Neeb picked a runner off at second.

Neeb, Van Sickler, Krout and Nick Beall all had two hits each for the victors.

Shenandoah will play the loser of the No. 4 vs No. 5 game in the final game of opening day of tournament play on Thursday.

The Hornets next game is Monday afternoon against Eastern Mennonite. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 but could be moved up to 4:00 based on the weather forecast.

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