ERIE, Pa. – The Gallaudet University baseball team's first postseason game almost ended in disappointment as the Bison gave up four runs and the lead in the eighth inning of Saturday's Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III South Championship semifinal to Centenary (N.J.) College. The second-seed Bison were down to their last two outs and trailed, 10-8, at Penn St.-Behrend Field but rallied to score three runs and win, 11-10.
Centenary (19-18), the third-seed, gave up the winning run in bizarre fashion as Cyclone pitcher Chad Frankenfield was called for a balk with a Bison runner on third base. Sophomore Ben Coleman (St. Paris, Ohio) trotted home, thanks to the balk, and the GU bench emptied onto the field to celebrate the victory.
Gallaudet (27-17) advances to the 2014 ECAC Division III South Championship game where it will face the host Lions from Penn St.-Behrend (29-14) tomorrow (Sunday, May 18) at 1 p.m. The Lions defeated fourth-seed Bethany (W.Va.) College, 8-2, in the second semifinal.
The ninth-inning rally began when senior Chris Guinn (McLoud, Okla.) walked with one out. Junior Mitchell Bensman (Russia, Ohio) singled through the right side of the infield. Guinn and Bensman moved up a base to second and third, respectively, after a wild pitch. Cyclone pitcher Jimmy Kraivec (3-3) walked Coleman to load the bases and end his time on the mound. Frankenfield came on and threw a wild pitch that scored Guinn. Pinch-hitter Jeremy Murphy (Owings Mills, Md.) singled through the left side of the infield to plate Bensman and tie the game at 10, as the Bison had runners on the corner. Frankenfield was then called for a balk to end the game.
Gallaudet relief pitcher Blake Phillips (Dalton, Ga.) picked up his fourth win as he pitched the final two innings and allowed one unearned run on three hits, walked one and recorded one strikeout.
The victory bailed out Gallaudet's No. 2 starting pitcher Danny O'Donnell (Olney, Md.) who surrendered an 8-6 lead in the top of the eighth as the Cyclones scored four times before the first out of the inning. O'Donnell allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 11 hits, walked four and struck out 11 as he faced 37 batters in seven plus innings.
Centenary scored three runs in the top of the first on just one hit. The Cyclones later led 4-1 before the Bison tied the game, 4-4, with three runs in the bottom of the fourth as a cold rain began to fall on the overcast day. GU scored at least a run in five of the final six innings. The Bison led 7-6 after six innings and added a run in the seventh as they held an 8-6 advantage.
Senior catcher Casey Hicks (Henderson, Nev.) finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate and was a home run shy of the cycle. Hicks drove in two runs and scored twice. Bensman went a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, knocked in two, scored once and walked once. Senior outfielder Marcus Smith (Baltimore, Md.) was the third Bison to have three hits as he finished 3-for-4, one run, one RBI and one walk. Guinn scored three times followed by Hicks and senior William Bissell (Brewer, Maine), who scored twice.