BALTIMORE — The Penn State Altoona baseball team held a 4-3 lead going into the ninth inning of Saturday’s NCAA Division III Tournament matchup with St. John Fisher University, but the Cardinals scored seven runs to surge ahead and eliminate the Lions by a final score of 10-4.
Penn State Altoona (20-27) built a 4-0 lead through the first two innings of Saturday’s contest at Johns Hopkins University’s Babb Field, but St. John Fisher (31-13) chipped away at its deficit in the fourth inning, when the Cardinals scored three runs to close the gap to one. The Lions nursed their narrow advantage into the ninth, but St. John Fisher rallied for seven runs to deal Penn State Altoona a tough loss.
St. John Fisher advances to play another elimination game later today (May 20) against the loser of the Johns Hopkins and Randolph-Macon College contest, while Penn State Altoona is eliminated from the tournament.
Sam Homan, of Altoona, started on the mound for the Lions and had a strong outing in a no decision. The left-hander pitched 6 2/3 innings, limiting St. John Fisher to three runs while scattering six hits, walking two, and striking out one. Alex Kitko, of Houtzdale, tossed 1 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, while Mack Meengs, of State College, pitched 2/3 inning and Collin Hickey, of Downingtown, threw the final 1/3 inning.
At the plate, three Lions finished with a two-hit performance. Richard Carey, of Milton, Delaware, went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in, Timothy Richard, of Douglassville, also hit 2-for-4, and Garrett Alauzen, of Pittsburgh, finished 2-for-5 with one RBI.
Jonathan Rauch, of Pittsburgh, hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season for Penn State Altoona, and Jake Hillard, of State College, and Grant Barberich, of Leesburg, Virginia, also had one hit apiece for the Lions.
Penn State Altoona established an early lead by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning, then adding another in the second.
The Lions loaded the bases with no outs to start the first, as Hillard doubled, Rauch was hit by a pitch, and Chamberlain walked to put three runners aboard. Alauzen’s groundout to second base plated the game’s first run, and Carey ripped a two-run single down the left-field line to make it 3-0.
Rauch tacked a run on to Penn State Altoona’s total in the second, when his solo home run over the right-field fence made it 4-0.
St. John Fisher recorded its first hit of the day in the top of the fourth, then proceeded to score three runs in the frame to cut Penn State Altoona’s lead to one. James Murphy put the Cardinals in the hit column with his one-out single, and Brian Norsen followed with a two-run homer to left to make it 4-2. St. John Fisher used the long ball to strike again one batter later, when Ben Lavery’s solo shot trimmed the Lions’ advantage to 4-3.
Penn State Altoona worked out of jams to maintain its narrow lead over the next four innings. In the fifth, the Lions used an inning-ending double play to erase a one-out base runner, and the team forced St. John Fisher to strand two runners in the top of the sixth. The Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but a groundout ended the threat.
But St. John Fisher capitalized with runners aboard in the top of the ninth. Jake Crantz led off with a double, moved up to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Ethan Perry’s game-tying RBI single up the middle. A hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases for St. John Fisher, and after a pair of strikeouts put two outs on the board, Norsen hit his second home run of the game, a grand slam to propel St. John Fisher to its first lead of the day. One batter later, Lavery hit his second long ball of the day, a two-run shot to give the Cardinals a 10-4 advantage.
Penn State Altoona finishes its season with a 20-27 overall record. The Lions rode a hot streak through the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament, winning the conference title for the third time in program history and making their second-ever NCAA postseason appearance this week.