(Posted March 27, 2010)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Tyler Clifford, Matt Regan and Nate Burkey combined to strikeout 13, in 13.2 innings of work over two games, but the Juniata College baseball team dropped a pair of Landmark Conference games to Catholic University, 5-2, and 5-4 (8 innings), in Washington, D.C., Saturday afternoon.

Clifford (Homer City, Pa./Homer Cecnter) got the nod in game one, but could only pitch three innings before arm issues made him hand the ball over to Burkey (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) for the final three innings.

The Cardinals did their damage in the first inning, scoring three runs off of Clifford. Catholic quickly got on the board with three straight singles, the third plating the run of the game. They later scored on a sacrifice fly, and on a double steal, as the runner on third trotted home after the throw from Greg Hoffman (Phoenix, Md./Dulaney) went all the way through to second base.

Juniata cut it as close as 4-2 in the sixth, after they managed only one run with runners on second and third and one out. Hoffman earned the RBI with a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Chase Dykstra (Somerset, Pa./Somerset Area).

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth, and brought in their sidearm closer, Mike Bzozowski, who finished the game, facing four batters in the seventh.

Regan (Downingtown, Pa./Devon Prep) was dealing through most of game two, but gave up a two out, two run single in the seventh that knotted the score at 7-7, sending the game into extra innings.

He started off on a good foot in the fourth, striking out the first and last batter of the inning, with a small hiccup in the middle, giving up a single to the Cardinals three-hole hitter.

Juniata (3-15, 1-4 Landmark) scored first in the third, as Dykstra came all the way around from first to score off a Johnny Martinez (Mt. Union, Pa./Mt. Union) single into the gap in left center. The relay came into the shortstop, which bobbled the transfer, allowing Dykstra to continue motoring around the bases.

But the Cardinals (8-4, 5-0 Landmark) answered right back with a run of their own in thee bottom half of the inning.

Juniata took the lead again with two more runs in the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, Andrew Kriss (Forest Hill, Md./John Carroll) sent a ball to right field. The fielder made a spectacular play over his head, hauling in the line drive, but that scored Evan Pappas (Potomac, Md./Thomas Sprigg Wootton) with the sacrifice fly. With two outs, Martinez singled home Tom Eck (Columbia, Pa./Lancaster Catholic), giving the Eagles the 6-4 lead.

Regan struck out the first batter of the seventh, his ninth of the game. But from there, the game became hairy. Pinch hitter Sean Earley reached on an error by Eck before Tim Mierzwa singled into center field. The two baserunners each moved up a base on a wild pitch, setting the stage for the comeback.

With two outs (Regan struck out his 10th and final batter of the game for the second out), Dmitri Deoudes singled through the right side, slow enough for both runners to cross the plate, tying the game at 4-4.

The Eagles went down in order in the top half of the eighth, allowing Catholic the chance for the comeback. With two outs and no runners on base, the Cardinals started the rally.

Eamonn Burke singled into right field, getting the winning run on base. Then, LJ Travaglia soft dribbler to third was handled cleanly by Eck, but the third baseman under threw Pappas at first, as the ball went by him all the way to the fence. Pinch runner AJ Ventura rounded all the bases on the error, scoring the game winning run.

Burkey took the loss for the Eagles as he threw 0.2 innings in game two, giving up the unearned run. He also threw three innings in game one, allowing two runs (one earned), facing 13 batters.

The Eagles remain in Washington, D.C. to complete the three game series against the Cardinals on Sunday, March 28. The single, 9-inning matchup will start with a 12:00 p.m. first pitch.


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