Baseball News & Highlights
April 21, 2013
Eagles Drop a Pair to Cougars
The Eagles entered the day knowing that Wilkes had swept Delaware Valley in the only Freedom Conference series that was finished. That information meant that losing both games would create a tough scenario for next weekend's final series. The Eagles lost 9-2 in the opener, and saw a 2-0 lead disappear as the visiting Cougars scored ten runs in the final four innings to claim the nightcap 10-2.
The Eastern hitters had their hands full with Misericordia's game one starter Evan Robaczewski (7-1). The Eagles managed just three hits as the senior right-hander worked from ahead throughout his seven inning outing.
Misericordia scored three times on four hits in the first as the Cougars worked deep count after deep count against Eastern starter Ernie Stiegler. The Cougars added two more after two were out in the top of the fourth.
The Eagles finally reached base when Angelo Kelly reached on an error to lead off the fourth. Eric Rossi then pulled a hard groundball toward first that caught the lip of the infield dirt and bounced straight up and nearly over Cougar first baseman Joe Tagliarini. Tagliarini got his bare hand on the ball and nearly made a terrific play to get Rossi at first, but the sophomore catcher beat the throw and the Eagles had a rally. Tyler Orr was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Greg DeSarro hit a ball hard, but he was unable to elevate the ball and the Cougars executed in the middle of the infield for a double-play. Anthony Messina then delivered the first clean hit of the day to drive in Orr from third. Messina stole third and advanced on a wild pitch, but the rally ended on a nice play on a fly ball in foul territory by Tagliarini.
The Cougars took advantage of some extra outs to tack on four more runs in the late innings and the Eagles were unable to solve Robaczewski. Rossi hit a ball to the fence in the sixth, and Mark Royer singled with two outs in the seventh, but there was too much ground to make up.
Game two started much better after Brendan Spall flied out on a ball to the fence in center. Rossi turned on an inside pitch for a single to right. After Orr again was hit by a pitch, Greg DeSarro drove a single to right center to score Rossi and move Orr to third. Orr scored on a fly ball from Messina to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
That lead would hold as Lucas Bremerman was brilliant early. The Cougars did not hit a ball out of the infield through the first three innings. The fourth started out innocently enough with a ground ball to short. Misercordia third baseman Andrew Tressa pulled a ball down the left field line for a double. It appeared that Bremerman was out of the inning with a ground ball to the next hitter, but a throwing error allowed a run to score and put another runner in scoring position . That run scored on a single to center. The inning could have been worse had it not been for a brilliant diving stop at shortstop on a hard ground ball in the hole. Dillon Schwartzer was able to get the fielder's choice at second to retire the side with the score tied.
Misericordia starter Will Minderjahn seemed to get stronger as the game went on, and the Cougars grabbed two runs in the fifth and another single tally in the sixth before putting the game away with five runs in the top of the seventh.
The loss puts the Eagles in a tie for sixth in the conference, but their chances at a post-season berth are not as remote as perhaps they should seem. Eastern cannot catch any of the first three teams, and Coach Morris's team now knows they must sweep Delaware Valley to have a shot at the tournament. If the Eagles can take all three from the Aggies, they will make the playoffs only if Misericordia sweeps Wilkes and FDU takes at least one game from Manhattanville.
The elements working in Eastern's favor are that Misericordia trails DeSales by a half game in the race for the top seed, and that the Cougars are a potential Pool C qualifier for the DIII National tournament should they not win the Freedom Conference Championship. The Eagles can be sure that Misericordia will have ample motivation to sweep the series. If FDU is swept by Manhattanville, the Devils would risk, at worst, elimination from the tournament and would drop to the fourth seed.
The challenge in front of the Eagles now, is to find a way to win three in a row in Conference series. The Eagles have won three series this year, but they have yet to take all three.
Given the state of the program prior to the arrival of this year's senior class, it is fairly remarkable that these scenarios even exist. The year before Greg DeSarro, Ernie Stiegler, Devon Ziegenfuss, and Mark Royer arrived, the program went 0-16 in Conference play and was outscored 427-176 in a 3-29 campaign. Those four players were freshmen on a team that had a massive turnaround. Brandon Kenish and Drew Shaw came in as transfers, and the Eagles have the chance to win four league series in their final season.
While the scores today showed that there is still ground to be gained, the anticipation of this coming weekend shows that a great bit of ground has already been gained. The Eagles host Gwynedd Mercy College in their final non-league game this Tuesday.
Updated: Monday, 29 November 1999