Eagles Baseball Looks To Repeat As Conference Champions
(Posted May 3, 2005)
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Huntingdon, PA - The Juniata College baseball team will begin its defense of its Commonwealth Conference Championship when the Eagles take on Widener University in the opening round of the 2005 conference postseason Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Owls Field in Reading, Pa. Juniata is the second-seed for the four-team event, while Widener enters as the number-two seed. Top-seed Messiah College and fourth-seed Elizabethtown will open the postseason with a game at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. The double-elimination tournament will run through Saturday, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Ticket prices for the first day of competition are $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for students. The prices will be raised a dollar on day two, and then return to the original price for the final day. Complete tournament passes can be purchased for $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students.
Juniata enters the postseason with a record of 24-15 and a 15-6 record in the Commonwealth Conference. The Eagles reached the 20-win plateau for the fourth time in the last five seasons, and have tied the program record for wins in a campaign which was established a season ago. Juniata is 5-4 against the other three teams in the postseason, including a 2-1 record against Widener. Juniata was also 2-1 against Messiah, and went 1-2 on the year against Elizabethtown.
Juniata claimed a 3-2 victory in a rain-shortened contest in the first game of the three-game series between Widener and the Eagles. A Dan Kauffman (Penn Manor/Conestoga) solo home run proved to be the difference, and Cody Zong (Lewistown/McVeytown) went the distance to earn the win for Juniata. Widener starter Tony Meccariello and a pair of Pioneer relievers limited Juniata to four hits and one run as the Pioneers earned a 3-1 win in the second game of the series. The Eagles then claimed the rubber match as Jason Enoch (Hempfield/Landisville) tossed a complete-game shutout to propel Juniata to the 8-0 win. Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) went 3-for-3 with a home run, two doubles and three runs scored in the victory.
Zong has anchored a Juniata pitching staff that ranks third in the conference in earned run average and batting average against. The junior is 5-1 on the year with a 2.96 ERA and has thrown five complete games on the season. Enoch has been a consistent part of the Eagle rotation as he boasts a 4-3 record and a 3.92 ERA. He has been even better against conference foes as he holds a 4-2 mark with a 1.59 ERA in six conference appearances. The freshman also leads the team in strikeouts with 44. Andrew Snyder (Punxsutawney/Punxsutawney) and Darius Reed (Juniata Valley/Alexandria) could also both gets chances to start as the duo combined for five wins in 2005.
Sophomore Jeff Hayes (Indian Valley/Lewistown) anchors the Eagles bullpen with his two saves and a 3.65 ERA. Freshmen Josh Lingenfelter (Claysburg-Kimmel/Claysburg) and Brian Dunklebarger (State College/State College) have both seen regular use out of the bullpen this season, and have totaled three saves. Senior Paul Evans (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) or junior Eric Bridenbaugh (Central/Martinsburg) could be used in long relief or as starters during the competition.
Goedkoop has paced the Juniata offense all season as he leads the team in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. He leads the conference with 48 RBI on the season, which is a new Juniata single-season record. Second baseman Will Russell (Tyrone/Tyrone) is tops on the team in hits and batting average and is second in RBI. Lead off man David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) ranks is fourth on the team in hits, and has scored a team-high 37 runs. Outfield Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) is hitting .361, ranks first on the team in stolen bases and is second in runs. Kauffman ranks second on the team with six home runs, is second in slugging percentage and fourth in RBI. Jesse Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) is hitting just shade under .300 and is fifth on the team in hits. Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster) handles Juniata's catching duties and is hitting .281 with 25 hits and four doubles.
Juniata will be looking to earn its first back-to-back conference titles since the 1990 and 1991 teams claimed that honor. Claiming the conference championship would give Juniata a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the program's history.
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