PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Five seed Penn State Altoona baseball was defeated 9-4 by third-seeded Penn State Behrend on Friday morning in day two of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament championship rounds at John Arnold Sr. Memorial Field.
With the loss, Penn State Altoona (17-21) is eliminated from the AMCC Tournament. The Lions got off to a slow start in Friday's game, spotting Penn State Behrend a 5-0 lead through the first four innings. Penn State Altoona was unable to dig itself out of the early hole, going on to lose by five runs.
"Unfortunately, we came up short today. I give this team credit for the way we fought hard all season," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "Each of the two years that I've been here, we've made huge steps in the right direction, starting with qualifying for the playoffs last season and advancing to the final four this year. We expect to improve even more next year."
Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) went 2-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in, and one run scored. Chris Michaelis (Albany, NY/Albany) also hit 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Peter Jacobs (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) was the starting pitcher for Penn State Altoona. The left-hander was handed the loss, throwing 4 1/3 innings and yielding six runs while striking out three batters. Tyler Manger (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst) pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief, giving up three runs and striking out three.
Behrend (25-16) plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning to stake out the early lead. David Boehme's RBI double down the left field line and Braden Paulinellie's RBI single to center put Behrend up 2-0. They increased their lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth, getting an RBI double to right by Holden Stevanus and a two-run single to center from Ian Taylor.
Penn State Altoona got on the board in the top of the fifth. Chase Clouser (Dublin, OH/Dublin Jerome) and Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda) reached on back-to-back singles, and Breon drove them both in with his double to left-center that cut Behrend's lead to 5-2.
But Behrend got a run back in the bottom of the fifth on Taylor's RBI single to left, and then it increased its lead to 8-2 in the sixth on Scott Sada's RBI base hit up the middle and Ben Ramey's RBI hit to center field.
The Lions responded with two runs in the top half of the seventh. With two outs, Breon and Michaelis each hit singles to left to set the table. Justin Virga (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) knocked in Breon with a base hit through the left side, and Jacobs followed with an RBI single to left-center that scored Michaelis to make it 8-4.
But Behrend added one more run to its total in the bottom of the seventh on Mason McGuire's sacrifice fly, upping its lead to 9-4.
"I can't say enough about our two seniors, Jim Shomberg and Chris Michaelis. This season wouldn't have been possible without Jim and Chris, and I can't thank them enough for all the hard work they've put in over their four years," said Barnard. "The program is headed in the right direction, and we are excited about the future."
Penn State Altoona baseball finishes its season with a 17-21 overall record. The Lions went 10-8 in the AMCC this season, a one-win improvement over last season's conference record. The team earned its second consecutive AMCC Tournament berth, including making its first appearance in the conference final four for the first time since the 2011 season.