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Baseball Falls Victim To Rally; Now Faces Elimination

(Posted May 6, 2005)

Will Russell went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, but Juniata dropped a 7-3 decision to Messiah in postseason action.

Messiah 7, Juniata 3

West Lawn, Pa. ? The Juniata College baseball team fell victim to a late-inning rally, and now must claim three-consecutive victories to earn the conference championship as the Eagles dropped a 7-3 decision to Messiah College in the second round of the 2005 Commonwealth Conference Championship Tournament Friday afternoon. The Eagles (25-16) must now face Elizabethtown College in an elimination game Friday evening. Messiah (26-12-1) advances to Saturday?s Championship game.

Juniata led early in the game as starter Cody Zong (Lewistown/McVeytown) held the Falcons to one run through six innings. But the Eagles were able to only scratch out four hits against Messiah starter Kyle Brobst, and missed chances to take a big lead early on before the Falcons scored six runs in the final two innings to claim the win.

Juniata made the first mark on the scoreboard with a single run in the top of the second. Will Russell (Tyrone/Tyrone) reached on a fielder?s choice then stole second to move into scoring position with two outs. Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster) followed with a single to right-center that plated Russell to give the Eagles a 1-0 edge.

Juniata added to the lead but missed an opportunity to break the game open in the top of the third. David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) followed a lead-off walk with a double to put runners at second and third. Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no one out. But Brobst induced a double play that brought home one run, and forced the next batter to foul out to end the inning with just one run for the Eagles

The Falcons answered immediately. Zong posted two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, before Pete Godino drilled a triple to right field. Josh Clabaugh followed with an infield single that gave Messiah its first run of the game. Chris Heisey followed with a sharp liner to third that Darren Hake (Red Lion/Red Lion) snared for the third out.

Juniata added to the advantage with a run in the top of the sixth. Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) doubled with one out, and slid in just in front of the tag at home on a Russell RBI single to put Juniata on top 3-1.

Messiah rallied back to take a lead in the bottom of the seventh. Andrew Bagley started the frame with an infield single. Craig Mease followed with the first home run of the tournament as he cleared the wall in right field and tied the score at three. Godino drew a walk with none out, then stole second and moved to third on an error with one down. Jeff Hayes (Indian Valley/Lewistown) came on and retired Chris Heisey but then surrendered a two-out hit to Chris Regan on a flare up the middle that brought home the go-ahead run. Hayes walked the next hitter before ending the frame with a strike out.

Messiah added another three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Mease began the scoring with an RBI single to left. A wild pick-off throw brought home the second run of the frame, and a sacrifice fly from Clabaugh added another run to the Messiah lead.

Juniata went in order in the top of the ninth as Brobst finished the complete-game win.

Zong was charged with the loss as he went 6 1-3 and allowed four runs on seven hits. Russell paced the Eagle offense with one hit a run and an RBI. Goedkoop finished 1-for-3 with a run scored.

Juniata will need to win tonight?s game against Elizabethtown, and then defeat Messiah twice on Saturday to repeat as conference champions. Juniata was 1-2 against the Blue Jays during the regular season.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.