PITTSBURGH, Pa. – No. 3 seed Penn State Altoona baseball bounced back from its opening day loss yesterday in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament championship rounds, as the Lions defeated No. 4 Mount Aloysius College and No. 2 Penn State Behrend on Friday afternoon to earn a shot at the conference title.
After falling to Behrend on Thursday, the Lions (28-15) dropped into the losers bracket of the tournament's final four. But Penn State Altoona stayed alive with a thrilling 7-6 extra innings win over Mount Aloysius to open Friday's action, then held on to top Behrend 5-3 in its second game of the day.
With the wins, Penn State Altoona advances to the AMCC Championship, tomorrow, Saturday, May 11, where the Lions will face top seed and host La Roche University at 11:00 a.m. Penn State Altoona will need to defeat La Roche twice to fulfill the tournament's double elimination requirements.
Game One: No. 3 Penn State Altoona 7, No. 4 Mount Aloysius 6 (Final/11 innings)
Penn State Altoona came out on the winning side of a back-and-forth tilt that took 11 innings to decide. It was the Lions' first win in the championship rounds of the AMCC Tournament since 2011.
Austin Anderson (Macungie, PA/Emmaus) delivered a walk-off base hit for the Lions in the bottom of the 11th, finishing the game 2-for-5 with a run batted in and a run scored. The walk-off hit was Anderson's second this season against Mount Aloysius, as the senior also hit a walk-off double to defeat the Mounties on April 24.
Penn State Altoona's bats heated up, compiling a total of 16 hits as a team to tie for the fourth-most hits in a game by the Lions this season. Four different players finished the game with a three-hit performance.
Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda) was 3-for-3 with a double, a run batted in, a run scored, and a walk. Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) was 3-for-5 with a double, two RBI, a walk, and a stolen base.
Jordan McCall (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) was also 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored. Catcher Cumming (Altoona, PA/Altoona) finished 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs scored.
On the mound, Aaron Sharp (Freeburg, PA/Midd-West) got the start and took a no decision. The right-handed went 5 1/3 innings, yielding three earned runs on seven hits and five walks while recording one strikeout.
Austin Miller (Orbisonia, PA/Southern Huntingdon) came out of the bullpen to pitch 1 1/3 innings after Sharp, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out one batter. Tyler Manger (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst) pitched the next 4 1/3 innings and picked up his third win of the season. He surrendered one run on three hits and two walks while striking out a pair.
Mount Aloysius (27-16) built a 3-0 lead through the first three-and-a-half innings.
In the top of the first, Doug Smith's solo home run to left field gave the Mounties the early lead. The de facto visitors made it 2-0 in the third, when Daniel Singer scored on a double steal. In the top of the fourth, Mount Aloysius increased its lead to 3-0 when Patrick Mahon scored on a throwing error.
However, Penn State Altoona put together a four-run bottom of the fourth to jump ahead. Bates got his team's first run across when his sacrifice bunt brought Cumming home from third. The next three batters produced run-scoring hits, as Richard Carey (Milton, DE/Cape Henlopen) had an RBI single to right, McCall hit an RBI double to left-center, and Breon lined an RBI base hit up the middle to give the Lions a 4-3 advantage.
Mount Aloysius tied things up in the top half of the sixth, when Matthew McCourt's RBI double to right-center evened the score at 4-4.
The Lions responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Breon's double down the left field line drove in the go-ahead run, and George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) hit a sac fly to center that scored McCall to make it 6-4.
The Mounties answered again, scoring a run in each of the next two innings to tie the score. Mahon's RBI single through the right side made it a one-run game in the seventh, and Sam Keibler's RBI double to right-center tied things up, 6-6.
The score remained 6-6 after the ninth, and the game proceeded into extra innings.
Each team squandered a scoring opportunity that left the game tied through ten-and-a-half innings played.
In the bottom of the 10th, Penn State Altoona gave itself a chance at a walk-off when Bates led off the frame with a single, then moved up to second on a balk with no outs. But the Lions were unable to advance Bates any further, stranding the potential winning run at second base.
In the top of the 11th, Mount Aloysius got its first two runners aboard, as Keibler led off with a single to right and Jeremy Iellimo drew a walk. After Keibler had advanced to third on a groundout, he was picked off and tagged out. The next batter lined out to end the frame.
Penn State Altoona finally capitalized in the bottom of the 11th, taking advantage of a scoring chance to win the game. Cumming's one-out double to right put a runner in scoring position, and after Chase Clouser (Dublin, OH/Dublin Jerome) reached base on catcher's interference, Anderson singled down the left field line to drive in Cumming and help Penn State Altoona to the walk-off victory.
Game Two: No. 3 Penn State Altoona 5, No. 2 Penn State Behrend 3
After the teams traded runs in the first inning, Penn State Altoona got in front with a three-run fourth inning, and the Lions never relinquished their advantage the rest of the way, despite a late push from Behrend (24-16).
Joey Brown (Wading River, NY/Shoreham Wading River) was 3-for-5 for the Lions with a double, two RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base. Justin Virga (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) was 3-for-5 with a run scored, and Bates hit 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Clayton Hain (Schaefferstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon County) started on the mound and got the win, improving to 3-1 this season. The right-hander tossed six innings and surrendered two runs on four hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts. Sawyer Kline (Bellwood, PA/Bellwood-Antis) pitched the game's final three innings, giving up two hits, one walk, and no earned runs while striking out one batter to record his first save of the season.
The Lions took an early lead, when Stiuso's two-run single through the left side gave Penn State Altoona a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first.
Behrend answered quickly, tying the score in the bottom of the first on Joshua Wagner's RBI double to right-center and Zack Bowen's RBI base hit up the middle.
Penn State Altoona reclaimed the lead in what would be a decisive fourth inning. Brown's double to left-center drove in a pair of runs, and Peter Jacobs' (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) RBI groundout made it 5-2.
That lead stood up the rest of the way for Penn State Altoona, despite one run coming across for Behrend in the bottom of the ninth on an error.
Now, Penn State Altoona will face the AMCC's best team tomorrow, as the Lions are in search of their first conference title since 2011.