(Posted May 5, 2006)

WEST LAWN, Pa. ? It wasn?t always pretty, but it was effective for the Juniata College baseball team, as the Eagles used a pair of big innings to earn a 10-5 victory over Widener University and earn a spot in the Commonwealth Conference championship game. Juniata (30-10-5) will play Saturday afternoon against the winner of Friday night?s elimination game between Widener (25-12-1) and Elizabethtown. The winner of Saturday?s championship game will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Along with giving Juniata a shot at the championship, the victory was also the 100th win in the career of Juniata?s 10 seniors. The group entered this season with a record of 70-51and now have reached 100 wins for their careers with the 30 this year.

Several seniors played a part in Juniata?s comeback in the game. With the scored knotted at five after Widener scored two runs in the top of the fourth, Juniata took the lead for good on a solo home run from Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles added to the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Widener starter Brian Campbell walked the bases loaded with one out, and Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster) singled home a pair of runs to give Juniata an 8-5 lead. A groundout from Darren Hake (Red Lion/Red Lion) plated another run, extending the lead to 9-5. Juniata tacked on one more run in the eighth as Will Russell (Tyrone/Tyrone) drove an RBI triple to center, to plate Goedkoop.

?Anytime we have been down this season, the guys think they are going to come back,? Juniata head coach George Zanic said. ?They expect to score runs and come back into the game, and that?s exactly what we did today. Different guys come up and get the job done and they?ve done that all season.?

The Eagles were forced to come as Widener pushed across two runs in the top of the first. With runners on first and second, Josh McLeod knocked an RBI single down the right-field line to bring home the first run, and Matt Fischer followed with a fielder?s choice groundout that gave the Pioneers the second run of the game.

Juniata got one run back in the bottom of the inning. Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) singled to start the inning, then came home on a David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) double that made the score 2-1 in favor of Widener.

The Pioneers added to the lead with a single run in the top of the third. Tom Fien pulled a single just inside the bag at third to put Widener on top by a 3-1 score.

The Eagles claimed their first lead of the game with four runs in the bottom of the third. A sacrifice fly from Dan Kauffman (Penn Manor/Conestoga) brought in the first run, and then with two outs Russell pulled a three-run homer to left to give Juniata a 5-3 lead. It was Russell?s first home run of the season.

Widener answered right back with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to knot the score at five. Bill Davis hit an RBI double to left to make the score 5-4, and Campbell followed with a fielder?s choice that brought home Davis with the tying run.

Those were the last runs that Juniata hurler Cody Zong (Lewistown/McVeytown) surrendered as he earned his seventh win of the season with a complete game. Zong battled throughout the game as he allowed five runs on 11 hits, but he held Widener off the scoreboard over the final five innings.

?It?s so important in this tournament to save the bullpen, and for the second-consecutive day we?ve had a pitcher battle to get a complete-game,? Zanic said. ?Cody gave us everything he had tonight. We were close to pulling him in the fifth, but he gave us another four innings and did a great job.?

Campbell was tagged with the loss for Widener as he allowed nine runs over 6 1-3 innings. He allowed just six hits, but four of them were for extra bases and he also walked six on the game.

Russell finished 2-for-4 with four RBI and a pair of runs scored. Saintz also finished with two runs while adding an RBI and a run scored. Goedkoop scored three runs for the Eagles while Beaver crossed the plate twice.

Jamie Schild led Widener?s offense with two hits and two runs scored. Davis also had a pair of hits along with an RBI and a run scored while Chad Walton added another pair of hits.

Juniata will be making its season appearance in the Commonwealth championship game for the second time in three years. As the Commonwealth postseason is double-elimination format, the Eagles will have two chances to claim the title on Saturday.


Our readers respond...

Be the first to provide a response.

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