READING, Pa. – Gallaudet University made it to the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) West Division baseball championship game on Sunday after the third-seed Bison defeated top-seed Penn St.-Berks in the first game, 5-4. The two teams quickly turned around to play a second game with the title on the line at Hintz Athletic Field on the campus of Penn St.-Berks.
Gallaudet (25-17) entered its fifth game in three consecutive days while the Nittany Lions began its fourth game in two days (Friday and Sunday). The amount of games and a worn out pitching staff got the best of the Bison as Penn St.-Berks (18-22) scored runs in the first six innings to take a 13-3 lead en route to the 13-5 victory.
Penn St.-Berks wins the NEAC West Division title and will meet Castleton State College, the winner of the NEAC East Division, in the NEAC/NAC championship starting on May 4 with the winner earning an automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Division III tournament.
The Bison started the final game on the right foot when junior shortstop Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) tripled to right center field, freshman JJ Klein (Cincinnati, Ohio) walked and senior William Chapman (Los Angeles, Calif.) singled home Barksdale. Sophomore William Bissell (Brewer, Maine) stepped to the plate with two runners on base and no outs. Bissell lined into a triple play to end the inning and stop the GU momentum. Ironically, Gallaudet turned a triple play on Saturday against SUNYIT to halt the Wildcats from a big inning.
Senior pitcher Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.) got the start for the Bison but he didn't last long. Hastings (2-3) faced six batters and surrendered five runs on four hits, walked one and only recorded one out as GU trailed 5-1 after one. The rest of the game Gallaudet used a bullpen by committee as four different pitchers came in to try and save the game for the Bison.
Penn St.-Berks scored two runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings and tacked on single runs in the third and fourth as the Nittany Lions led 13-3 as the teams entered the seventh inning. Berks recorded 20 hits in the win as seven different batters had two or more hits. Designated hitter Rich Schlamowitz led the way with a 4-for-6 performance as he hit two doubles, triple, scored a run and drove in four.
Ryan Tantala (3-4) pitched a complete game for the Nittany Lions as he pitched all nine innings and allowed five runs (three earned) as he surrendered 14 hits, walked two and struck out three.
Sophomore Chris Guinn (McLoud, Okla.) pitched a solid outing in the first game as he went six innings and allowed only four runs on six hits, walked two and struck out five Nittany Lions. Sophomore Tyler Crace (Westfield, Ind.) came on for the save, his fifth of the season, as he pitched three scoreless innings as Gallaudet won 5-4.
The Bison scored twice in the fourth and three times in the sixth as they led 5-0 before Berks got on the scoreboard with four in the bottom half of the sixth.
Guinn (3-0) helped his own cause at the plate as he went 3-for-4 with a run and two RBI and freshman Mitchell Bensman (Russia, Ohio) drove in two runs on two hits to lead the Bison.
GU still has a chance for postseason play if it is selected to the ECAC championship field in mid-May. That field will be announced after the NCAA tournament is set.