PITTSBURGH, Pa. – In the opening game of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament championship rounds, hosted at top seed La Roche University, the No. 3 seed Penn State Altoona baseball team took a 9-1 loss against No. 2 Penn State Behrend on Thursday afternoon.
The Lions (26-15) will face the loser of today's matchup between No. 1 La Roche and No. 4 Mount Aloysius College in an elimination game tomorrow, Friday, May 10. Barring any weather-related schedule adjustments, first pitch for that game is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
Penn State Altoona stayed within striking distance through five innings, as Behrend (24-14) held a 2-1 lead past the game's midway point. But, coming out of a brief rain delay, Behrend put together a five-run bottom of the sixth inning, en route to an eight-run victory.
"We got outplayed today. I thought we put some really good at-bats together in innings four, five, and six," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "Unfortunately, once the rain delay took place, we lost that momentum. [Behrend starting pitcher Phil] Myers threw well today, and they were the better team. We need to regroup and be better tomorrow."
Justin Virga (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) had two of Penn State Altoona's five hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Jordan McCall (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) was 1-for-2, and Peter Jacobs (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) and Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) each finished 1-for-4, with Breon providing the Lions' lone RBI.
Zane Leister (Middleburg, PA/Midd-West) got the start at pitcher and suffered just his second loss of the season. In six innings, the right-hander yielded seven runs on nine hits and six walks while striking out three batters.
Clayton Hain (Schaefferstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon County) pitched one inning in relief, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk with one strikeout. Sawyer Kline (Bellwood, PA/Bellwoond-Antis) tossed one scoreless inning in relief, walking one and striking out one.
After both teams proceeded quietly through the first three innings of the game, Behrend broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth. The inning started with a leadoff single, and Joshua Wagner followed with a double to left to drive in the game's first run. Later in the frame, Justin Foreman's sacrifice fly to center plated a run to give Behrend a 2-0 lead.
Penn State Altoona quickly cut Behrend's lead in half, responding with a run in the top of the fifth inning following three straight singles. With one out, base hits from Virga and McCall put two runners on. Breon followed with a single up the middle to score Virga, trimming Penn State Altoona's deficit to 2-1.
The one-run score remained until the bottom of the sixth inning. After the frame started with a walk, a heavy downpour forced the tarp to be placed on the field. Following a short delay, play resumed, and Behrend's bats awoke to put together a five-run inning. Ian Taylor's RBI single to right and John Brittner's run-scoring fielder's choice increased Behrend's lead to 4-1. After a passed ball and a walk, Wagner's two-run single to left-center and Mason McGuire's RBI hit to right made it 7-1.
Behrend padded its lead in the seventh, when Taylor's two-run double to left-center upped his team's advantage to 9-1.
Meanwhile, Penn State Altoona was unable to get anything going, as the Lions were held without a baserunner in the game's last three innings.
Behrend advances to play the winner of today's La Roche/Mount Aloysius game, with that contest tentatively scheduled for 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
If Penn State Altoona wins its 10:00 a.m. game tomorrow, it would play at approximately 4:00 p.m. that afternoon against the loser of the 1:00 p.m. contest.