Panthers, Penn State Altoona Set for AMCC Showdown

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

AMCC Baseball Tourmament - First Round Schedule

Sunday, May 7
Game 1 (7 innings): 1 p.m.
Game 2 (9 innings): 3:30 p.m.

Monday, May 8 (if necessary)
Game 3 (9 innings): 11 a.m.

Location: Altoona, Pa.

Stadium: Juniata Civic Baseball Field

BRADFORD, Pa. - The fifth-seeded Pitt-Bradford baseball team will square off with fourth-seeded Penn State Altoona in the first round of the AMCC tournament Sunday.

The two teams will play a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the AMCC Championship round to face top-seeded La Roche next Thursday in Pittsburgh. Sunday's games were originally scheduled for Saturday but have moved back due to anticipated inclement weather.

It marks the second straight weekend the Panthers will travel to Altoona. The Lions dealt Pitt-Bradford a pair of one-run losses last Saturday to wrap up home-field advantage.

Pitt-Bradford is making its sixth straight appearance in the conference postseason tournament and its 17th overall. This is the third meeting between the two schools in the opening round and first since 2012.

The Panthers carry a little momentum into Sunday's matchup, after sweeping Medaille Wednesday to secure the final spot in the tournament. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Boyer was the star, tossing eight scoreless innings while striking out a career-high nine in a 5-0 win in game two.

Pitt-Bradford head coach Zach Foster will hand the ball to senior right-handers Ryan Northcott and Justin Beimel. Both pitchers struggled in their first turn against the Lions but hope a second crack will yield better results. Northcott gave up eight runs in 5.1 innings, while Beimel was touched up for five runs. Should the Panthers need a starter for a winner-take-all game three, Boyer will take the hill.

Freshman infielder Tyler Hoops continued his second-half offensive surge Wednesday, collecting two more walks to push his AMCC-leading total to 33. He played a role in three of the Panthers' five runs in game two and is among the league leaders in runs scored. His .538 on-base percentage ranks in the top 25 nationally in NCAA Division III.

Junior third baseman Dalton Renn and sophomore catcher Austin Parent anchor the middle of the Panther lineup. Renn has driven in 20 runs over the last 11 games, and Parent, who had his 17-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday, hit a team-best .446 with 18 RBIs in conference play.

Penn State Altoona returns to the postseason for the first time since 2014 after enjoying a resurgent 2017 campaign. The Lions' 18 wins are the most since 2011, and they finished with a winning record in AMCC play for the first time in five years.

Freshmen Hunter Beron and George Stiuso led the Lion offensive attack. Stiuso is hitting .328 with a team-best four home runs and 23 RBIs, and Beron has connected for three homers, stolen nine bases and driven in 24 runs.

Senior pitchers Jared Dailey and Mike Marley got the start against the Panthers last weekend and figure to take the mound once again. Dailey is 6-2 on the season with a 5.79 ERA, and Marley has an ERA of nearly seven in 45-plus innings this year. Freshman Aaron Sharp leads the team in innings pitched (52.2), strikeouts (47) and ERA (4.27).

The Panthers are also looking to end a recent stretch of futility. Pitt-Bradford has been swept the last four years in the first-round of the tournament.

Pitt-Greensburg and Mt. Aloysius meet in the other opening round series. The winner of that matchup will play No. 2 seed Penn State Behrend.