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Juniata baseball takes first two in a tripleheader against Merchant Marine

(Posted April 17, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College baseball took the first two of three games in a Landmark Conference series against the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Sunday at Langdon-Goodale Field

Juniata (12-16, 5-7 Landmark) opened the day with a solid 14-6 victory over Merchant Marine (10-12-1, 4-10-1 Landmark) then grabbed another 5-3 win in game two. The Eagles fell 10-6 in the final game of the series in a nine-inning game.

Highlights from the day include two grand slams from John Martinez (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) one from Cole Walters (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) and one from freshman Benjamin Mersky (Hershey, Pa./Hershey).

In the first game and first Eagle frame, Mersky set the pace for the morning, hitting a homer off the first pitch. The Mariners were up 6-5 at the end of the first two innings, until the Eagles finally caught up. Joe Sforza (Pittstown, N.J./Immaculata) doubled then Andrew Hirsch (Annandale, Va./Falls Church) did the same to score Sforza and catch up 6-6 in the bottom of the fifth.

Juniata broke the game wide open in the bottom of the sixth inning as eight different Eagles crossed home plate, on five hits and three errors. Ian Thorne (Germantown, Pa./Seneca Valley) got the offense started and came home first for the Eagles. Martinez scored and Kevin Campbell (Germantown, Md./Poolesville) pinch ran for Walters to come home. Sforza, Hirsch, Matt Fritz (Schnecksville, Pa./Parkland), Chase Dykstra (Somerset, Pa./Somerset Area), and Mersky all crossed home in the flurry.

Ben Sealy (Seneca Falls, N.Y./Mynderse Academy) relieved John Love (Loysburg, Pa./Northern Bedford) at the mound in the seventh inning to pull away with the game one win, off no runs, one hit, zero errors and one runner left on base. Love was credited for the win off of five earned runs, zero walks, and two strikeouts.

Martinez led the Juniata offense, going 4-for-4 at the plate, scoring three runs with two RBI.

Starting pitcher Dustin Thomsen was charged with the loss for Merchant Marine on nine earned runs, nine errors, two walks and four strikeouts. Warren Hartmann went 2-for-4 at bat to lead the Mariners' offense with two runs.

In game two, Juniata scored four runs before the Mariners grabbed two in the top of the fourth inning. The Eagles scored one run in the first inning, linked together three in the third, and added one more in the fifth to come out on top 5-3. Martinez hit a grand slam in the first inning. In the three-run sequence, Fritz got on base with a single and stole second. Thorne singled to left field to score Fritz. Martinez homered once again, this time scoring Thorne as well. Walters homered in the bottom of the fifth.

Matt Regan (Downingtown, Pa./Devon Prep) owned the mound in game two, fanning six Merchant Marine batters, off three earned runs and one walk to get credit for the win. John Kret was charged with the loss for the Mariners off five earned runs and two strikeouts in six innings of work.

Martinez went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs and three RBI in game two, while Walters also went 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. John Hubach went 3-for-4 to lead the Mariners' offense with one run.

Merchant Marine pulled away 7-2 in the top of the fourth of game three, scoring four runs on five hits, keyed by Warren Hartmann's double to bring in John Hubach and Andrew MacKinnon.

The Eagles battled back in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs to trail the Mariners 9-6. Sforza doubled, advanced to third thanks to Hirsch's hit, and scored on a Mariner shortstop error. Brad Medellin (Lewisberry, Pa./Red Land) singled, advanced to second on the same shortstop error, got to third base on a wild pitch, and Tom Eck (Columbia, Pa./Lancaster Catholic) plated him off a single. Fritz singled, Eck advanced to second, and Thorne singled to plate both Fritz and Eck.

One Mariner run in the top of the eighth would be the last of the day, pushing Merchant Marine ahead, 10-6 in the final game of the series.

Timothy Arner was credited for the win on the mound, fanning six Eagle batters off four earned runs and six walks in six innings of work. Starter Sforza was charged with the loss in game three, striking out one Mariner batter off six earned runs and two walks in three innings. Ryan Morrison (Lebanon, Pa./Lebanon Catholic) and Nate Burkey (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) relieved Sforza for the remainder of the game.

Eck led the Eagles attack in game three, going 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. Andrew MacKinnon went 3-for-5 at the plate for the Mariners, scoring three runs with one RBI.

The Eagles will host a doubleheader versus Penn State Altoona on Thursday, Apr. 21. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

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