ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Eli Branzburg rapped out five hits and added three runs scored and two RBIs to lead Muhlenberg to a pair of late-inning victories over McDaniel in Centennial Conference (CC) baseball action on Sunday.
The Mules (13-20-1, 7-9 CC) plated six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one to turn a 9-4 deficit into a 10-9 victory before completing the sweep with two runs in the bottom of the eighth of game two to break a 7-all deadlock for a 9-7 win.
With the two losses, the Green Terror (14-12, 7-8 CC), who entered play on Saturday one game out of first place, is now within one loss or one Johns Hopkins win of being eliminated from the conference tournament. Franklin & Marshall, Ursinus and Haverford locked up bids on Sunday, leaving the fourth and final spot for either Johns Hopkins or McDaniel. The two teams each play their season-ending doubleheader on Saturday but also still have to meet in Baltimore for the conclusion of their home-and-home series.
Russell Coover (Schuylkill Haven, Pa./Blue Mountain) led the Green Terror with five hits, two runs scored and two RBIs.
With the nightcap tied at 7-all, John Kalis reached on an error to leadoff the home eighth.
One out later, Christian Conti and Chris Costa put together-back-to-back singles to give the hosts a one-run lead.
Bobby Spindler added an RBI groundout to set the final margin.
After the Mules scored one run in each of the first two innings, Sergio Nieto (Mameroneck, N.Y./Rye Neck) drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit in half.
However, an Eric Pomroy two-run single in the bottom of the inning keyed a four-run frame that gave the hosts a 6-1 lead.
Singles from Branzburg and Pomroy an inning later stretched the lead to 7-1 before McDaniel got two back in the sixth and tied the game on a Coover two-run single up the middle in visitor seventh.
Five singles coupled with a pair of errors staked the Green Terror to a 5-0 lead in the top of the second inning of the opener.
A Justin Reitz (Halifax, Pa./Halifax) sacrifice fly scored Zach Croft (Laurel, Md./DeMatha) in the fourth, pushing the lead to 6-0 before a one-out error in the bottom of the frame led to four unearned runs that closed the Muhlenberg deficit to 6-4.
Branzburg had the big hit of the inning with a two-run single.
A Nieto home run pushed the lead back to three a half-inning later and the visitors used three singles after a one-out error in the top of the sixth to stretch the lead to 9-4.
A leadoff double from Conti and one-out singles from Bobby Spindler and Branzburg started the Mule rally in the bottom of the inning.
Eric Hamond drew a walk to chase starter Ryan Graves (Cordova, Md./St. Michaels). Reliever Brian Rosato (Narvon, Pa./Pequea Valley) allowed a sacrifice fly to Dan Fisher – the first batter he faced.
Pomroy followed with a single that, coupled with an error, cleared the bases and pulled the hosts within 9-8.
A wild pitch knotted the game at 9-all before an Edward Risener home run proved to be game winner after the Mules got a game-ending double play in the top of the seventh.
McDaniel finished with 23 hits in the two games, including 13 in the opener but left 15 runners on base. Harold Baines, Jr. (St. Michaels, Md./St. Michaels) had four hits while Troy Tipton (Hanover, Pa./South Western) added three.
The Green Terror returns to action at home against Penn State-Harrisburg on Monday. Game time is 3:30 p.m.
Score by Inning – Game One 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - R H E
McDaniel (14-11, 7-7 CC) 0 5 0 1 1 2 0 - 9 13 3
Muhlenberg (12-20-1, 6-9 CC) 0 0 0 4 0 6 x - 10 11 4
Ryan Graves, Brian Rosato (6) and Justin Reitz; Phil Cresta and Eli Branzburg. WP: Cresta (4-3). LP: Rosato (2-4). S: none. SO-BB: Graves 5-2, Rosato 1-0; Cresta 4-0. 2B: Zach Croft (Mc), John Kalis (Mu), Christian Conti (Mu). HR: Sergio Nieto (Mc), Edward Risener (Mu).
Score by Inning – Game Two 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - R H E
McDaniel (14-12, 7-8 CC) 0 0 0 1 0 2 4 0 0 - 7 10 2
Muhlenberg (13-20-1, 7-9 CC) 1 1 0 4 1 0 0 2 x - 9 15 3
Chase Wolf, Mike Freeman and Justin Reitz; Brent Morris, Mike Speroni (7), Mike Misciagna (7) and Eli Branzburg. WP: Misciagna (1-1). LP: Freeman (0-2). S: none. SO-BB: Wolf 2-3, Freeman 1-2; Morris 2-0, Speroni 0-1, Misciagna 0-0. 2B: Jon Zimmerman (Mc).