READING, Pa. – The Gallaudet University baseball team started its quest for a North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship on Friday on the campus of Penn St.-Berks with a win over second-seed Penn St.-Abington, 6-5. GU then dropped the next game, 7-2, against the top-seed Nittany Lions from Berks to end a 10-game winning streak.
The third-seed Bison (23-16) had little time to enjoy their first win as the visitors had to prepare quickly for the second game against Penn St.-Berks (15-21). The host Nittany Lions led 1-0 early on before Gallaudet tied it at 1-1 in the fourth. In the bottom half of the inning Berks scored twice and later tacked on four runs in the sixth to take the five-run lead. Penn St.-Berks advances to Sunday's championship round in this double-elimination tournament thanks to its two wins on Friday. The Nittany Lions defeated fourth-seed SUNYIT, 9-4, in the first game.
Gallaudet will face either Penn St.-Abington (23-18) or SUNYIT at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, in the second game of the day. Penn St.-Abington and SUNYIT will play an elimination game at 10 a.m. to start things off. The winner of the second game on Saturday will face Penn St.-Berks on Sunday, April 29, and will need to defeat the Nittany Lions twice to win the title.
Sophomore pitcher Marcus Smith (Baltimore, Md.) came up huge in the first game as he threw a nine-inning complete game. Smith (7-3) allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits, three walks as he struck out five.
Abington led 1-0 in the second inning before the Bison plated three runs in the third inning to get on the scoreboard. GU added a run in the fourth and two in the seventh to regain the lead, 6-5, after briefly trailing 5-4.
Senior William Chapman (Los Angeles, Calif.) went 3-for-5 at the plate with two doubles, two runs and a RBI. Sophomore outfielder William Bissell (Brewer, Maine), the NEAC West Division Player of the Year, drove in four runs on two hits as two of those runs came on a single in the third inning. Sophomores Chris Guinn (McLoud, Okla.) and Jeremy Murphy (Owings Mills, Md.) both had two hits in the win for the buff and blue.
In the second game, GU fell behind early and had to play catch-up throughout the nine-inning game, different from the seven-inning tilts the Bison played during the regular-season when it played two games in one day. Penn St.-Berks scored a run in the second to take a 1-0 lead before GU tied the game at one in the fourth.
GU starting pitcher Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.) recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in a game as he allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work.
Kevin Heilman picked up the win for the Nittany Lions as he threw seven solid innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Penn St.-Berks used two pitchers out of the bullpen to wrap up the win as neither pitcher allowed a hit over the final two innings.
Ryan Tantala and Rich Schlamowitz both batted 4-for-4 and scored at least one run and drove in one run. Designated hitter Kyle Hartman had two doubles in the victory for Berks.
GU was the lone NEAC school to beat Penn St.-Berks in conference play this season as the Nittany Lions posted a 10-2 NEAC mark. The Bison and Penn St.-Abington both had 10-4 conference records this season.