(Posted May 4, 2006)

WEST LAWN, Pa. ? The Juniata College baseball team got its postseason off on the right foot as the Eagles overcame a two-run deficit to earn a 9-5 victory over Lebanon Valley College in the opening game of the Commonwealth Conference postseason in West Lawn, Pa. Thursday afternoon. The top-seeded Eagles (29-10-1) will now play the winner of Thursday?s second game between Widener University and Elizabethtown College on Friday. Lebanon Valley (14-23) will play the loser of that contest in an elimination game Friday morning.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of sixth inning, Juniata reclaimed the lead by scoring five runs on five hits. With the bases loaded and one out, Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster) singled home a pair of runs to tie the score. Darren Hake (Red Lion/Red Lion) followed with an RBI single to right that put Juniata in front 5-4. With two outs, Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) dropped a double into centerfield which bounced off the glove of the diving centerfielder that scored two runs and gave the Eagles a 7-4 advantage.

The Eagles tacked on another pair of runs in the seventh. Jesse Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) lined a single up the middle to bring home a run, and then Hake brought home a run with a squeeze bunt, giving the Eagles a 9-4 edge.

?I was really happy with the way our guys responded once we got down,? Juniata coach George Zanic stated. ?Our seniors really led us back, particularly Zach who had the big hit and really led us all game. This was a real nice way to get things started.?

Lebanon Valley would get one run back in the ninth on an RBI groundout from Bert Malloy and then had the tying run in the on deck circle before Jeff Hayes (Indian Valley/Lewistown) closed out the game with a strikeout to earn his fourth save of the year.

Juniata was actually forced to come from behind twice in the game as Lebanon Valley got started quickly in the first. Dan Kelly came home on an RBI single from Malloy to take a quick 1-0 lead.

The Eagles countered quickly with two runs in the bottom half of the first. After a one-out walk to David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville), Dan Kauffman (Penn Manor/Conestoga) launched his 15th home run of the season over the rightfield wall to give Juniata a 2-1 edge. The home run brought Kauffman?s RBI total on the season to 51, which breaks the Juniata single-season record which was set by Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) last season.

After working out of trouble a few times, The Flying Dutchmen got to Juniata starter Jason Enoch (Hempfield/Landisville) again the top of the fifth. An RBI single from Richie Schwartz tied the score, and then Brad Brandt followed with a two-RBI double to deep center that give Lebanon Valley a 4-2 lead.

Enoch settled in after the rocky fifth as he retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before walking the opening batters in the ninth. He claimed the win in the game, improving to 8-0 on the year as he allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out five.

?That was a gutsy effort from Enoch today as he really didn?t have his best stuff,? Zanic said. ?But he showed why he?s one of the best pitchers in the conference because he battled, and found a way to help us get the win.?

Matt Sanders took the loss for Lebanon Valley. He allowed seven Juniata runs on nine hits over six innings of work.

Beaver paced Juniata?s offense with three hits and two RBI. Sternberg and Kauffman each had two hits with two RBI, while Goedkoop notched a pair of hits and scored twice.

Schwartz was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for Lebanon Valley on the day, while John Mentzer had a pair of hits and a run.


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