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Juniata baseball splits doubleheader versus Catholic

(Posted March 26, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College kicked off its three-game Landmark Conference baseball series against The Catholic University of America with a 13-2 loss in game one yet came out on top, 6-4, in game two, Saturday afternoon at Langdon-Goodale Field.

Juniata (8-8, 1-4 Landmark) allowed two Catholic runs in the first inning, five in the second, and one in the fourth of game one, before the Eagles could score for the first time in the bottom of the fifth.

Cole Walters (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) and Ian Thorne (Germantown, Pa./Seneca Valley) each hit singles to start off the offense in the Eagle fifth. Matt Fritz (Shnecksville, Pa./Parkland) reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second thanks to Ben Mersky's (Hershey, Pa./Hershey) single. Walters scored off the sequence.

Catholic (11-7, 4-1 Landmark) added two more runs in the top of the fifth and three in the seventh inning to pull away with the lead. Juniata scored its second run of the game in the sixth inning as John Martinez (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) tripled and Russel Gray (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) hit a grounder to Catholic shortstop LJ Travaglia that allowed Martinez to score.

Walters and Thorne each went 2-for-3 to lead Juniata at the plate. Juniata starter John Love (Loysburg, Pa./Northern Bedford) struck out one Catholic batter against only two walks, and allowed five earned runs on ten hits in the game one loss. Will Hoffman (Pheonix, Md./Dulaney) and Mario DeYulius (Ebensburg, Pa./Central Cambria) relieved Love to finish out the game.

Catholic starting pitcher Ron Esposito finished with three strikeouts and scattered nine hits to earn the win.

In game two, Juniata gained two runs in the second inning after Catholic's Matt Grieb hit the ball out of the park in the first. Russ Gray stroked a single and eventually scored on Walters' base hit. Sforza then scored on Thorne's sacrifice fly ball out to right field.

The Eagles managed two more runs in the fourth inning when Sforza hit a double and scored on Thorne's single. Fritz had an RBI single later in the frame, plating a second Juniata run. In the fifth inning, Sforza walked, stole second, and then rounded the bases thanks to Walters' hit and an error charged to the Cardinals' second baseman Tim Mierzwa.

Catholic was unable to score again until the sixth inning when they plated three. The Eagles fought back with one more run to take the 6-4 lead as Tom Eck (Columbia, Pa./Lancaster Catholic) came home on Martinez's grounder to second base that was mishandled by the Cardinals' Mierzwa.

Juniata starter Matt Regan (Downingtown, Pa./Devon Prep) fanned seven Catholic batters against just one walk. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits to get credit for the win. Merskey went 2-for-2 at the plate while Sforza was 2-for-2 and scored three runs to lead the Eagles offense.

Juniata returns to action at Langdon-Goodale Field on Sunday, Mar. 27, when the Eagles close out the series against Catholic with a single nine-inning contest. First pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.

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