Vulcan baseball: Cal U claims sweep over Mercyhurst

WASHINGTON, Pa. (March 20) – After being shutout in yesterday’s twinbill, the California University of Pennsylvania baseball team posted a doubleheader sweep over Mercyhurst on Saturday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Park in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West play, winning 11-5 and 9-8.
With the sweep, the Vulcans improve to 11-9 overall and 6-2 in league play this season. In the first two weeks of conference play, Cal U has faced the top two teams in the preseason coaches’ poll. Meanwhile, Mercyhurst drops to 8-10 this year and 3-3 in divisional action.
In the doubleheader, the Vulcans’ offense erupted for a combined 22 runs and 20 hits (four homers) after being held scoreless in 14 innings yesterday. Sophomore left fielder Troy Handza (Glenshaw, Pa./Shaler) belted two homers and collected five RBI in the nightcap and was one of four players to finish with three hits in the two games against the Lakers.
Cal U opened the twinbill by exploding for 11 runs on seven hits in the second inning of Game 1 to take an 11-0 lead. With the bases loaded, juniors Sean Welsh (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East) and Casey Teagarden (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) collected back-to-back RBI singles. After the next batter reached on a fielder’s choice, senior right fielder Sam DiMatteo (Center, Pa./Center) belted a three-run homer to give the Vulcans a 6-0 lead.
DiMatteo is now tied with Wayne Lock (1981-84) for second place in school history with 24 career homers, trailing only the record of 39 set by Cal U Athletic Hall of Famer Bryan Hartung (2000-03).
Later in the inning, junior first baseman Adam Links (New Hope, Pa./Central Bucks East) and freshman catcher Kyle Petty (Stewartsville, N.J./Phillipsburg) posted back-to-back doubles. After a pitching change by Mercyhurst, the next four Vulcans all reached base with Teagarden plating the final two runs of the inning with a two-out single.
In the third inning, the Vulcans added another run on a throwing error by the shortstop to increase their lead to 12-0. Mercyhurst collected a RBI single in the fourth before Cal U responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer (third of the season) by junior designated hitter Chuck Faust (Hershey, Pa./Hershey), 13-1.
The Lakers cut the deficit to 13-5 after scoring four runs on three hits in the fifth before freshman starter Tyler Zimm (Fayetteville, W.Va./Oak Hill) retired the final two batters of the inning on flyouts.
Zimm improved to 2-0 this season after allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits in 5.0 innings. Sophomore right-hander Pat Gannon (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper Saint Clair) tossed two hitless innings of relief to seal the victory. Mercyhurst starter Nick Gillung suffered the loss after being roughed up for eight runs (five earned) in only 1.2 innings.
Links, Welsh and Teagarden all finished the game with two hits, while DiMatteo and Teagarden each collected three RBI. Faust finished the game with three runs scored after four plate appearances.
In the nightcap, Handza belted a solo homer to start the bottom of the first before junior second baseman Aaron Ordy (Butler, Pa./Butler) scored on an error later in the inning. The Lakers responded with a grand slam by right fielder Justin Urschel in top of the second to take a 4-2 lead. Cal U quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when Handza delivered a three-run homer, 5-4.
A solo homer by the Lakers tied the game in the third before the Vulcans scored a pair of two-out runs to take a 7-5 lead after three innings. Mercyhurst then took an 8-7 lead in the top of the fifth after scoring three runs on only one hit. In the bottom of the inning, Ordy tied the game after scoring a wild pitch before Links scored the eventual-game-winning run on a fielder’s choice.
The Lakers managed to get runners in scoring position in each of the last three innings before sophomore reliever Jim Kirker (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) worked out of each inning without allowing a run. In the seventh, Mercyhurst opened the frame with a double before the runner advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Kirker then induced a shallow flyout before forcing a popup to Teagarden to seal the victory.
In the nightcap, Handza went 3-for-4 with one double, two homers, five RBI and two runs. Freshman third baseman Evan King (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) also collected a pair of hits, while Ordy scored two runs.
Senior Ryan Lavrusky (Temple Terrace, Fla./King) earned his second win of the season despite allowing eight runs (six earned) on seven hits and three walks in 4.1 innings. Kirker registered his first career save after throwing 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. The Lakers’ Scott Knoche was saddled with the loss after allowing two runs while failing to register an out.
The Vulcans return to action on Monday, March 22, when they travel to face Wheeling Jesuit in a non-conference game, starting at 1 p.m.

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Brian Kelly

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