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Juniata baseball wraps-up Landmark regular season crown with win over Scranton

(Posted April 20, 2008)

SCRANTON, Pa. -- The Juniata College baseball team locked up the Landmark Conference regular season title with a 16-8 win over the University of Scranton, Sunday afternoon at Connell Park in Scranton, Pa. The win completed a three-game sweep for the Eagles over Scranton, and gives Juniata (21-9, 13-1 Landmark) the top-seed for the upcoming Landmark Conference Tournament. As the number one seed, Juniata will host the four-team, double-elimination tournament on Langdon-Goodale Field in Huntingdon starting on Friday, May 2, and running through Sunday, May 4. In completing the sweep of the Royals on Sunday, Juniata had a four-run uprising in the top of the fifth inning to break open a 3-3 tie, and then added runs in each of the next four innings to cruise to the victory. The Eagles pounded 16 hits off Royal pitchers, and aided the cause by committing just one error. "During Saturday's games, our hitters kept the pressure on Scranton all day - we constantly had runners on base," said Juniata head coach Tom Gibboney. "Sunday was a little different. I think they may have actually hit the ball a little better, but our hitters still kept up the pressure on their pitchers." "Defensively, I thought we were very solid and we made plays for the most part. Our kids are very 'baseball smart' and they made some good decisions out there," said Gibboney. With two on and two out in the fifth, Steve Wilk (Blairsville, Pa./Blairsville) hit a home run to account for three of the Eagle runs in the inning. Earlier in the frame, Andrew Kriss (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll) reached on a double and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Scranton (17-12, 8-7 Landmark) responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within one run of the Eagles, including a two-run homer off the bat of Chris Psihoules. The Eagles put up four more runs in the top of the sixth to take an 11-6 lead, with Juniata plating runs on the heels of back-to-back singles from Kriss and Adam Spadafora (Asbury, N.J./Pennington School), three straight walks issued by Royals pitcher Scott Garbe, followed by RBI singles from Wilk and John Martinez (Mt. Union, Pa./Mt. Union). Juniata had solo shots in seventh by Kriss and in the eighth by Dan Kauffman (Conestoga, Pa./Penn Manor), with an additional run scored in the eighth by Greg Hoffman (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) who reached on a walk. Two more Eagle runs crossed in the ninth following a lead-off double by Spadafora, a walk to Kevin Small (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North), then a hit by pitch during Kauffman's at bat. Spadafora was thrown out at home on Hoffman's grounder to third, but the next two batters - Wilk and Martinez - were also hit by pitch, scoring Small and Kevin Campbell (Darnestown, Md./Poolesville) who was pinch running for Kauffman. Juniata starter Tyler Clifford (Homer City, Pa./Homer City) pitched five complete innings to earn the win; he allowed six earned runs on seven hits with two walks while striking out three Royals. Brian Markovich (Northern Cambria, Pa./Northern Cambria) tossed three innings of relief work, yielding two runs on four hits with three walks. Markovich was lifted in the ninth for Chad Kulik (Johnstown, Pa./Richland), who struck out two of the five batters he faced while issuing two walks. Scranton starter Justin Champagne was chased in the sixth after giving up nine runs, eight earned, on 10 hits, and was charged with the loss. Juniata will face Alvernia College in a single nine-inning game on Thursday, April 24, at 3:30 p.m. in Reading, Pa., before returning home to face the Greyhounds in the final Landmark regular season series of 2008. -30-

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