WASHINGTON – In one errant throw the top-seed Gallaudet University baseball team went from leading second-seed Penn St.-Abington, 3-1, to being tied at three in the eighth inning of the 2013 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament on Saturday morning at Hoy Field. The throw was one of three errors the Bison committed in the final two innings as they allowed two runs in each frame and were eliminated, 5-3, before a crowd of 200 fans.
Gallaudet (20-21) turned to its ace pitcher Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.), the 2013 NEAC Pitcher of the Year, to start the elimination game and he delivered through the first seven innings. Holsworth walked the first batter in the top of the eighth inning and the next Nittany Lion reached on a fielding error by third baseman Mitchell Bensman (Russia, Ohio). A sacrifice bunt by Daniel Hill (1-for-3) moved the runners over before shortstop Tom Ditro stepped to the plate. Holsworth fielded Ditro's soft comebacker to the mound but a bad throw to first base, which went into the outfield, allowed Bill Parave (1-for-3, two runs) and Mike Kerns (1-for-4, one run) to scamper home and tie the game at three apiece.
The Bison threatened in the bottom of the eighth inning as they loaded the bases against Penn St.-Abington (22-20) starting pitcher Mark McCouch (4-2). Gallaudet couldn't push across a run as two groundouts and one strikeout ended the rally.
Holsworth returned to the mound in the ninth and was promptly greeted by a lead-off triple from AJ Vagliani (2-for-4). Dustin Kology (1-for-5) singled to center field to plate Vagliani and end Holsworth's day. Holsworth (5-5) pitched eight innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits, walked three and struck out five. Kology scored, later in the inning, on a sacrifice fly by Kerns.
Gallaudet came out aggressive in the first inning as they recorded three straight singles from JJ Klein (Cincinnati, Ohio), Chase Magsig (Hudsonville, Mich.) and Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) led to a 1-0 lead for the Bison. GU added to its lead in the second when Klein tripled to plate Bensman.
The game remained 2-0, in favor of the Bison, until sixth inning when Penn St.-Abington got on the scoreboard with a RBI-single by Hill to score Parave. Gallaudet responded with a run in the bottom half of the sixth thanks to a throwing error by Hill.
Penn St.-Abington advanced to the second game on Saturday and lost to Penn St.-Berks, 4-3. The championship round on Sunday will pit third-seed Penn St.-Harrisburg against fourth-seed Penn St.-Berks with the first game set for 10 a.m. A Penn St.-Berks win would force a second game on Sunday in the double elimination tournament as Penn St.-Harrisburg is currently undefeated after winning twice on Friday.
GU finishes the year as NEAC regular-season co-champions and a 20-21 overall record. This is the second straight year the Bison have reached 20 wins in a season and the 11 conference wins is a program record.
The Gallaudet loss closes the careers for two seniors – Barksdale and Jeremy Adams (Glenn Dale, Md.) – on the Bison roster.
Barksdale, Coach Curtis Pride's first recruit, finishes his career with some of the best numbers in program history. He finished with a .327 batting average, 183 hits, 128 runs, 47 doubles, 12 triples, nine home runs, 92 RBIs, 281 total bases, .502 slugging percentage, 90 walks, .422 on base percentage and 51 stolen bases in 163 games. Barksdale played and started every single game during his four years as a Bison.
Adams played the last two seasons with the Bison after transferring to Gallaudet. At the plate he accumulated a .299 batting average (38-for-127), four doubles, one home run, 18 RBIs and 10 walks. On the mound, the right-hander tallied a 3-3 record, three saves, 18 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched.