(Posted May 7, 2004)

Juniata 2, Messiah 1

Reading, Pa. ? Senior hurler Ryan O?Donnell (Lebanon/Lebanon) got the best of a classic pitcher?s duel as the Juniata College baseball team topped Messiah College 2-1 in at Owls Field in Reading Friday afternoon. The win advances Juniata (23-14) to the Championship game of the Commonwealth Conference baseball tournament, which will be played at noon on Saturday. The winner of the Commonwealth Tournament earns a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Messiah (22-13) will play Moravian later Friday night in an elimination game.

O?Donnell tossed seven innings, allowing one run on five hits. The senior worked out of jams throughout the game as the Falcons stranded eight runners in the contest.

O?Donnell pitched his way out of trouble in the second as a pair of hits put runners at first and third with one down. The senior then forced a foul pop and a fly to right to work out of the jam.

?For a senior to come out and pitch like Ryan did, that?s a great performance,? Head Coach George Zanic stated. ?He threw 140 pitches and was able to get himself out of trouble all day long.?

Juniata?s only runs came in the top of the third. Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) reached on an error to start the inning. David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on. After an infield pop up, Walt Goedkoop (Manheim Township/Lancaster) delivered a single to right center as Beaver came around to score. Darren Hake (Red Lion/Red Lion) then grounded back to the pitcher which brought home Saintz and gave Juniata a 2-0 lead.

Juniata pitched out of another sticky situation in the sixth. A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. O?Donnell then fielded a sharp groundball back up the middle, threw to the plate for an out then got the runner at first to get an inning ending double play.

The Falcons got on the board in the bottom of the seventh. A lead-off walk to Ryan Garner started the frame. He moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on an infield groundout from Josh Clabaugh to make the score 2-1 in favor of Juniata.

Messiah hurler Kyle Brobst was just as sharp as O?Donnell, as he allowed just five hits and one earned run in the complete-game effort. He fanned seven Eagle hitters on the game Juniata managed just a pair of base runners after the fifth inning, but it would be enough.

?We?ve made our living all season moving runners over and making the little plays,? Zanic stated. ?We made some mistakes in that area tonight, but our pitching picked us up in every situation. We also played great defense which is a key to winning this tournament.?

Andrew Michanowicz (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief for Juniata. Then in the ninth, Robert Revercomb led off the frame with a single off Juniata closer Eric Hatten (Dubois/Dubois). Representing the tying run, Revercomb was thrown out on a steal attempt by Eagle catcher Zach Sternberg (McCaskey/Lancaster). Hatten retired the final two batters in order to seal the 2-1 win.

Goedkoop and Will Russell (Tyrone Area/Tyrone) each had a pair of hits in the game for Juniata, with Goedkoop recording an RBI. O?Donnell improved to 4-1 with the win, while Hatten recorded his sixth save.

Six different players notched hits for Messiah with Garner scoring the only run, and Clabaugh posting an RBI.

Juniata?s 23 wins ties the franchise record, which was established in 2000. Juniata last advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1990.


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