(Posted May 5, 2005)

West Lawn, Pa. ? The Juniata College baseball team rode a three-run sixth inning to back up a complete-game pitching performance from Jason Enoch (Hempfield/Landisville) to capture a 5-2 victory over Widener University in the first round of the 2005 Commonwealth Conference Baseball Championships. The Eagles advance to take on Messiah College in the second-round of the double-elimination postseason. Juniata improved to 25-15 with the win, while the Pioneers dropped to 23-13 and will play Elizabethtown College on Friday in an elimination game. The 25 wins are a new program record for the Eagles, who established the previous record with 24 victories last season.

Enoch out-dueled Widener hurler Tony Meccariello as he went all nine innings, and allowed just two runs while scattering seven hits and fanning seven. Meccariello allowed 11 hits and five runs over 7 1-3 innings, but was hurt by four Widener errors which accounted for four unearned runs.

Both teams had runners on throughout the game, as the two teams combined for 18 hits. But all 18 were singles, as neither squad managed an extra base hit. Juniata took the lead for good in the decisive sixth innings. Three Juniata hits were aided by three Widener errors. Will Russell (Tyrone/Tyrone) led off the frame with a single. Jesse Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) followed with a bunt single, and pitcher Tony Meccariello threw the ball away to put both runners in scoring position. An outfield brought the first run home, and a fielder?s choice with a throwing error plated the second run. Darren Hake (Red Lion/Red Lion) capped the scoring with an RBI single, giving the Eagles a 5-2 cushion.

?I think we all knew how important it was to win this first game, and we were able to find a way to do that,? Juniata head coach George Zanic explained. ?Jason had a real gutsy performance, and we scratched together enough offense to get the job done.?

Widener struck first with a run in top of the second. Stu Madden delivered a two-out single to right field that brought home B.J. Hogan with the game?s first run. Enoch finished off the inning with a strike out, stranding two runners in scoring position.

Juniata broke through and took the lead in the bottom of the third. A one-out single from David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) followed by a catcher?s interference put runners at first and second. Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) then came through with two outs with an RBI single to right, and Will Russell (Tyrone/Tyrone) slapped a single through the left side to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.

Widener came back to tie the score in the top of the fifth. Brian Campbell singled with one out, and moved to second on a single from Jaime Schild. With two out, an Enoch wild pitch eluded the catcher and went to the backstop, allowing Campbell to come all the way around from second with a run that tied the score at two.

The Pioneers threatened to cut into the lead in the bottom of the eighth. A lead-off walk and a bunt single put runners at first and second with two out. But Enoch closed the threat by fanning pinch hitter Mike Pekach to preserve the lead. Widener managed one base runner in the ninth, but saw the rally hopes end on a pop-out to Russell.

Russell paced the offense with three hits on the game while adding an RBI and a run scored. Saintz and Hake each added a pair of hits for the Blue and Gold.

Schild and Stu Madden both had a pair of hits to lead the Widener attack.

Juniata won two-of-three in the regular-season three-game series against Messiah. The Falcons claimed a 7-2 win over Elizabethtown in the opening game of Thursday?s postseason action.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.