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JUNIATA BASEBALL BACK IN THE CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS EAGLES PLAY HOST TO ELIZABETHTOWN ON WEDNESDAY

(Posted May 1, 2001)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College baseball team has earned a spot in the Commonwealth Conference post-season tournament and will play host to Elizabethtown College on Wednesday for an opening-round, nine-inning, single game starting at 2:30 p.m. at Langdon Field. The Eagles, who are 17-16-1 overall, finished the regular season at 8-6 in the conference loop to take second place in the Commonwealth. The Blue Jays (15-16) also posted an 8-6 mark on the conference scene, but Juniata swept Elizabethtown during the regular season and was awarded second place, while Elizabethtown took third. It marks the first journey into the conference championship tournament for Juniata since the 1998 unit earned a trip.

THE COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: The Commonwealth post-season provides for a field of four teams (the top four squads from the Commonwealth). The double-elimination tourney begins on Wednesday. The first round games are hosted at the site of the higher-seeded team, while the remaining portion of the tourney will be contested at Owls Field - Ted Palka Park in West Lawn, Pa., on Friday and Saturday. The loser's from the two games on Wednesday will meet at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, while the winner's will play at 3:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., the winner of the first game on Friday will play the loser of the day's second tilt. Play on Saturday will begin at noon and if a seventh game is needed in the tournament, it will be played at 4:00 p.m. The winner of the tournament gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III championship.

THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: The top four teams, in order of first to fourth, in the Commonwealth this spring were Lebanon Valley, Juniata, Elizabethtown and Messiah. Lebanon Valley cruised through the regular season conference slate at 12-2 and owns a 19-12 overall record, while Messiah is 15-17 overall and 7-7 in Commonwealth play. Lebanon Valley swept Messiah on the final weekend of the regular season to knock the Falcons out of second place and make room for Juniata.

TICKET PRICES: The price for admission on Wednesday at Juniata is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for senior citizens and $2.00 for students with identification. Over the weekend at Owls Field in West Lawn, Pa., daily tickets cost the same as Wednesday's first round game, while ticket purchased for both sessions (Friday and Saturday) will be $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for senior citizens, and $3.00 for students with identification.

THE 2000 CHAMPIONSHIP: This is the first year that the Middle Atlantic Corporation (MAC) has conducted separate championships for the Commonwealth and Freedom conferences. In 2000, Allentown defeated Elizabethtown in the title tilt of the MAC tournament.

JUNIATA VS. ELIZABETHTOWN: Over the past 25 meetings (since 1990) between the two programs on the diamond, Elizbethtown owns a 16-9 advantage, including wins in 7 of the last 10 outings. Juniata swept this two-game set with the Blue Jays this spring, 5-4 and 8-7, and that snapped a four-game losing streak against Elizabethtown.

THE EAGLES VERSUS THE 2001 TOURNAMENT FIELD: The Eagles posted a 2-4 record against the teams in this year's tournament. In addition to defeating Elizabethtown two times on April 14, Juniata got swept by visiting Lebanon Valley, 12-6 and 8-3, back on March 24, and the Eagles lost two to Messiah, 8-6 (8 innings) and 3-0, at Langdon Field on April 9.

THE COLLEGE HILL DIAMOND SQUAD PLAYOFF HISTORY: Juniata was last in the conference playoffs in 1998 when the Eagles lost two straight, falling to Delaware Valley, 14-4 and Albright, 12-2. The blue and gold last won the conference championship in 1991. In 1990, Juniata captured the MAC North title, but the title game with Moravian was rained out. In 1984 and 1989, the College Hill squad earned the MAC North crown.

COACH ZANIC ENJOYING FIRST SEASON AT THE HELM: In just his first season in charge of the Juniata baseball fortunes, George Zanic '89, has the Eagles back in the conference post-season. He was a two-year assistant coach under legendary Bill Berrier '60, who retired from College Hill in December after 41 years of service to the institution. Zanic played baseball for Berrier for four years and was the club's most valuable player in 1989. With Zanic as an assistant, Juniata set a program record for wins in a season (23) during the 2000 campaign.

THE 2001 EAGLE LEADERS: Junior first baseman and team most valuable player Tim Dobson (Millville/Millville, NJ) has paced the unit from the get-go in 2001 and heads into post-season action with a .385 batting average to go along with 32 RBI, 10 doubles and seven home runs. Senior right fielder/second baseman Lucas Kelleher (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) and senior center fielder Matt Eisenberg (Big Spring/Newville) have been table-setters at the top of the Juniata lineup and have scored 31 and 28 runs, respectively. Kelleher is hitting .348 and has eight stolen bases, while Eisenberg owns a .304 plate mark and has swiped 11 bases. On the mound, junior Clint Wevodau (Northern Lebanon/Annville) got off to a slow start but has come on to be one of the hottest pitchers in Commonwealth. He closed the year by winning his last four decisions (5-3) and posted a 2.17 ERA (4.50 for the year), while allowing just five walks over his final six appearances, including a three-hit, no-walk shutout of Susquehanna last Saturday. Sophomore Paul Evans (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) is 4-3 this spring with a 4.47 ERA in 48.1 innings of work.

LONG BALL AND THEIFS: Juniata has displayed the ability to knock baseballs out of the park this spring, while at the same time, the Eagles have proven to be speedy with plenty of stolen bases. Heading into this week of action, eight different players on the roster have hit at least one home run and four have hit more than one. A total of eight have also stolen at least one base and five have more than one.

CLIMBING THE CAREER CHARTS: Eisenberg, who has been a four-year competitor for the Eagles, has worked his way up the all-time lists at Juniata. He is currently ranked first in hits (170), triples (14), at-bats (488) and stolen bases (61). Eisenberg is also second in blue and gold history in runs scored (112), sixth in RBI (66), 10th in doubles (23) and 13th in batting average (.348). Dobson is second on the all-time charts on College Hill in home runs (16) and RBI (89), third in doubles (27), eighth in triples (8) and 11th in hits (105). Kelleher is 12th in hits (103) and seventh in runs scored (78). Wevodau has amassed a 17-6 overall record on the mound to rank third in Juniata history in wins and winning percentage (.739). He is also second on the all-time innings pitched list on College Hill (176.1).

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