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Seven-run uprising in the eighth leads Juniata past Merchant Marine, 14-12

(Posted April 18, 2010)

KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- Juniata College baseball spotted the host United States Merchant Marine Academy a 9-2 lead after two innings, but came roaring back with seven runs in the eighth and eked out a 14-12 win over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon at Lower Roosevelt Field.

The win improved Juniata's record to 10-18 overall, 7-5 in Landmark Conference play, and gave the Eagles their sixth straight win over a conference opponent - longest such streak since the 2008 season. The wins also slid Juniata into a fourth-place tie with Susquehanna University, with the Eagles hosting the Crusaders this weekend at Langdon-Goodale Field.

Juniata began its comeback in the top of the fifth inning, scoring four runs to cut the Merchant Marine (5-20, 1-14 Landmark) lead to 9-6. After a leadoff double by Kyle Saxman (York, Pa./York Suburban) and an RBI single two batters later by Andrew Kriss (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll), Johnny Martinez (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) cleared the bases with a two-run blast for his fourth home run of the season.

However the Eagles weren't done their scoring in the fifth. Greg Hoffman (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) drew a walk and advanced to third on an Ian Thorne (Germantown, Pa./Seneca Valley) double. Hoffman finally crossed on a Russel Gray (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) grounder to short.

The Mariners got two runs back in the seventh, one on an RBI double by Mike Bybee and another on a mishandled grounder back to the pitcher.

Juniata finally took the lead with its seven-run eighth. Evan Pappas (Potomac, Md./Thomas Spring Wootton), Kriss, and Thorne all had RBI singles for the Eagles, but Hoffman provided most of the offensive fireworks when he belted a three-run double to center field. Saxman plated another run on his sacrifice fly to center field.

The two teams traded runs in the ninth, with Juniata reliever Nate Burkey slamming the door on a Merchant Marine comeback by getting the final two Mariner batters to fly out with a runner on third.

Burkey pitched the final two-and-a-third innings of the game in relief of starter John Love (Loysburg, Pa./Northern Bedford County), and allowed four runs, one earned, on four hits to pick up the win. Love went into the seventh for the Eagles, and yielded eight earned runs on 14 hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Merchant Marine starter Keith Heine was tagged with the loss, after yielding 10 runs on eight hits and fanning six Eagles over his seven-plus innings of work.

Kriss finished the day 4-for-6 with three runs batted in, and extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Thorne went 4-for-5 on the afternoon, and Martinez, Hoffman, Pappas, and Saxman had one each each. Hoffman also had three RBI and crossed the plate for three runs, while Martinez also scored three times and drove in two more runs.

Juniata will travel to Greensburg, Pa., this Tuesday, April 20, to face the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in a doubleheader starting at 1:00 p.m.

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