Panthers' Postseason Hopes Take a Hit

Photo credit to Erika Helo.
Photo credit to Erika Helo.

ALTOONA, Pa. - Penn State Altoona dealt the Pitt-Bradford baseball team a pair of stunning one-run defeats Saturday, jeopardizing the Panthers' postseason hopes. The Lions rallied in game one with four late runs to win, 8-7, and walked-off the Panthers, 6-5, in game two to complete the sweep.

Pitt-Bradford entered the day with an outside chance of securing a first-round home playoff series in the conference tourney but instead is left fighting for its postseason lives. The Panthers play Medaille Monday in a must-win scenario, a make-up series from March 30 that was washed out by the weather.

Rain also interfered with play in game one against Penn State Altoona. The contest was knotted at two in the bottom of the fourth when play was halted. Once the game resumed, Penn State Altoona scored a pair of two-out runs to go-ahead 4-2.

Jay Clinger's two-run double in the fifth evened the score, and the Panthers went ahead 5-4 in the next at bat on Austin Parent's sacrifice fly. The lead would not hold, as starter Ryan Northcott failed to get out of the six inning.

Six of the Lions' first seven hitters reached base in the decisive inning, and Northcott was pulled after walking in the fourth run of the inning with the bases loaded. Pitt-Bradford attempted a comeback, pulling within 8-7 on RBI singles by Samuel Dreistadt and Tim Brown, but Brody Wood struck out looking to end the game.

Northcott allowed eight runs on 13 hits in 5.1 innings while walking two and striking out four. Brock Blovsky and Brown had three hits apiece, and Brown drove in two runs.

Penn State Altoona led 4-1 after the first inning in game two, but the Panthers charged back, scoring four runs of their own in the second to pull ahead 5-4. Dalton Renn walked with the bases loaded, and Parent delivered a two-run base hit in the frame.

The Lions tied the game in the fifth on a balk, yet neither team would score again until the ninth inning.

After reaching on a fielder's choice and advancing to second, Nick Blovsky scored on Wood's two-out base hit down the left field line, giving the Panthers a 6-5 lead.

Ryan Boyer walked and hit the first two Penn State Altoona batters in the bottom of the ninth, and an error on the ensuing play allowed the tying run to score. In the next at bat, the Lions perfectly executed the suicide squeeze, scoring the winning run from third base.

Boyer had pitched three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the ninth in relief of starter Justin Beimel. He gave up two hits while walking two and striking out one. Both runs scored in the final inning were unearned.

Beimel surrendered five runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings to suffer a no-decision. Parent went 3-4 with two RBIs, and Wood finished with two hits, a RBI and a run scored. The Lions outhit the Panthers 12-9.

Pitt-Bradford drops to 11-22 on the season and 6-8 in the AMCC. The Panthers must now win both games against Medaille to earn a postseason berth.

Game one against the Mavericks was nearly finished before play was halted in the top of the seventh with Pitt-Bradford leading 18-1. By rule, the teams must finish the seventh inning, setting up a must-win nine-inning game two for both squads.