The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

College

May 3, 2014

Kutztown eliminates UPJ in PSAC semifinal

BUTLER — The Pitt-Johnstown baseball team had one rough inning thanks to four Kutztown University bunts, and the Mountain Cats never completely recovered on Friday afternoon.

Kutztown used a six-run first inning to beat UPJ 6-2 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) baseball championship tournament semifinals at Kelly Automotive Stadium.

“Tough first inning,” UPJ coach Todd Williams said. “The first kid got a base hit. They started bunting, and we couldn’t get an out on four bunts. Two squeezes. Another base hit. Next thing you know it was 6-0. We were shell-shocked.

“The rest of the game we were OK. They had two hits the rest of the game. The balls didn’t bounce our way today.”

Kutztown (28-19), the No. 4 seed in the East, advanced to face Millersville, the West No. 2 seed, in the PSAC title game at noon today. Kutztown upset West top seed Seton Hill 2-1 in 12 innings on Thursday.

PSAC West No. 3 seed UPJ closed a 23-23 season.

“I’m very proud of this team. We were shorthanded in a lot of ways because of injuries,” Williams said, referring to a season that included an 0-5 start and early sub-.500 records of 3-9 and 6-13. “These kids, their resiliency is impressive. They battle and battle. We just didn’t get it done today.

“We had a lot of stuff go against us this year, but we represented UPJ well. It’s just a tough way to end it.”

UPJ finished the season going 12-4 in its final 16 games, including the conference tournament.

On Friday, Kutztown jumped on the Mountain Cat starter John Fees early. The Golden Bears sent 11 men to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored six runs on seven hits, including the four bunts.

“We misplayed a bunt where we should have had an out at home,” Williams said. “We misplayed another bunt that should have been an out at home. Not a good way to start the game. After that Johnny shut them down.”

Fees settled down and combined with Ryan Socol to hold Kutztown scoreless the rest of the way.

Pitt-Johnstown answered with a run in the bottom of the frame after Jake Warner singled and eventually scored from third on a two-out wild pitch. The Mountain Cats cut it to 6-2 in the fourth on Ernesto Rizzitano’s base hit to left that chased home Kyle Morrow from second.

UPJ had a potential ninth-inning rally after Rizzitano’s infield single, and pinch-hitter Mike Palkovitz’s one-out single up the middle. But reliever  Matt Swarmer got out of the jam.

Rizzitano collected two of the Mountain Cats’ nine hits and drove in a run.  Dillon Boyer added a double for the Mountain Cats.

“We scored two,” Williams said. “We got hits but we couldn’t string anything together. We bit ourselves in the foot in the first inning and it came back to haunt us.”

Williams said the Cats will miss a solid group of seniors.

“We lost a core that’s going to be hard to replace – our top-two pitchers, our catcher, our shortstop and our first baseman,” Williams said of his outgoing seniors Derek Younker, Fees, Kyle Morrow, Warner and Matt McGhee, respectively. “We have a lot of replacing to do. We’ve got some good young players to replace them. We’ll be young at a lot of key positions. We have a lot of work ahead of us but we’ll be back.”

 

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