Baseball Enters Postseason Looking For NCAA Berth
(Posted May 3, 2006)
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Huntingdon, PA - The Juniata College baseball team will begin its quest for a Conference Championships when the Eagles take on Lebanon Valley College in the opening round of the 2006 conference postseason Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Owls Field in West Lawn, Pa. Juniata is the top seed for the four-team event, while Lebanon Valley enters as the number-four seed. Second-seed Widener University and third-seed Elizabethtown complete day one play with a game at 7:30 p.m Thursday. The double-elimination tournament will run through Saturday, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Ticket prices for each day of competition are $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for students. Complete tournament passes can be purchased for $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students.
Juniata enters the postseason with a record of 28-10-1 and a 16-4-1 record in the Commonwealth Conference. The Eagles have already established a new program-record for wins in a season and reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Juniata is 6-2-1 against the other three teams in the postseason, including a 3-0 record against Lebanon Valley. Juniata also sported an unblemished 3-0 mark against Elizabethtown, but went 0-2-1 against Widener on the year.
The Eagles clubbed their way to a 17-5 win over Lebanon Valley in a nine-inning game played in Huntingdon. The game was tied at four through five innings, but the Eagles then scored 11 runs over the final three innings to earn the win. Andrew Snyder (Punxsutawney/Punxsutawney) went the distance on the hill for Juniata while David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) had three hits and five RBI. Game two of the series was decided in extra innings after Juniata rallied in the top of the seventh, and then got the game-winning hit from Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) in the 10th. Jason Enoch (Hempfield/Landisville) went nine innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Lebanon Valley starter Taylor Sgrignoli was nearly as sharp as he gave up two runs on eight hits over eight innings. The second game of the doubleheader belonged to senior hurler Cody Zong (Lewistown/McVeytown) who tossed a complete-game shutout in a 6-0 Juniata win. Dan Kauffman (Penn Manor/Conestoga) had a pair of hits and a home run in the win.
Kauffman has been one of the driving forces for a potent Juniata offense this season as he leads the conference and has set a new Juniata single season record with 14 home runs. He also leads the team with 49 RBI, which tied the Juniata single-season mark and is hitting .308. Beaver has been jumpstarting the offense at the top of the order. He is hitting a team-best .393 on the season and leads the team with 52 runs scored and 13 doubles. Saintz is also enjoying a productive season as he is second on the team in hits, home runs, runs and RBI. Third baseman Steven Wilk (Blairsville/Hollidaysburg) is hitting .343 with three home runs. Leftfielder Jesse Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) is third on the team with 47 hits and has scored 27 runs. Starting catcher Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster) is hitting .314 and has driving in 16 runs. Eight of Juniata's regular starters are hitting. .295 or better, and all nine regulars have averages of at least .268. Juniata has a team batting average of .314 and are averaging nearly eight runs per game.
Enoch and Zong have been the anchors of the team's pitching staff all season. Enoch boasts an unblemished 7-0 record and is among the conference leaders in strikeouts, earned run average and batting average against. Zong is 6-4 on the season with a 3.02 ERA, and has a 5-2 mark with a 1.72 ERA and two shutouts in his seven starts against conference foes. Snyder has also been effective in a starting role this season as he is 5-2 with a 4.91 ERA and has fanned 27 hitters. Sophomore Paul Dunklebarger (State College/State College) could also see a start in the postseason as he has a 4-0 record on the season and is striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Junior Jeff Hayes (Indian Valley/Lewistown) anchors the Eagles bullpen as he has piled up a 5-1 record with two saves and a team-best 2.01 ERA. Seniors Eric Bridenbaugh (Central/Martinsburg) and Andrew Michanowicz (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) could both earn work out of the pen, while Brian Markovich (Northern Cambria/Northern Cambria) has the second-most appearances of anyone in the team's relief corps.
Juniata will be looking to earn the fourth conference championship in the program's history and its second in the past three years. Claiming the conference championship would give Juniata a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the program's history.
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