WASHINGTON - For a second straight day the Gallaudet University baseball team lost a heartbreaker in 11 innings as the Bison were eliminated from the 2014 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) tournament by Penn St.-Berks, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Hoy Field. Top-seed Gallaudet (26-17) defeated second-seed Keuka College, 5-1, in the first game of the day to stave off elimination but had to turn around in a hour and wait out a brief rain delay before facing the third-seed Nittany Lions.
Two fielding errors by the Bison in the top of the 11th inning opened the door for Penn St.-Berks (17-19) to extend the inning and get runners on base. Tom Grablewski (2-for-5) reached on a fielding error by freshman Blake Phillips (Dalton, Ga.) as Nick Zipay scored from second base to break the 2-2 tie. That was the first run in six innings as both teams scored one run each in the fifth.
Senior outfielder William Bissell (Brewer, Maine) had a hand in both runs for the Bison. In the bottom of the third, Bissell tripled to score fellow senior Marcus Smith (Baltimore, Md.) as GU led 1-0. The Nittany Lions got a run back in the fourth and scored another in the fifth as they led 2-1. The lead wouldn't last long as Bissell slammed a home run to left-center field in the bottom half of the inning to knot the game at two.
Smith (3-for-6, one run, double) started the game on the mound and pitched five innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, walked one and struck out three. Sophomore Ben Coleman (St. Paris, Ohio) entered and pitched the remainder of the game for the Bison as he allowed two hits, walked three, recorded two strikeouts and gave up one unearned run in six innings of work.
Third-seed Penn St.-Berks advances to the championship round to face undefeated fourth-seed SUNYIT tomorrow (Sunday, May 11) at 10 a.m. If the Nittany Lions can win the first game a second game will be played at 1 p.m. The winner of the NEAC tournament will receive an automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Division III baseball tournament.
The Bison still have a chance at the postseason as they applied for the ECAC tournament that is slated to be played next week. Gallaudet will learn about its future on Monday when both the NCAA and ECAC tournament fields are released.
In the first game, Gallaudet scored the game's first runs in the bottom of the second inning, when junior Mitchell Bensman (Russia, Ohio) singled up the middle to score freshman Justin Strong (Charlotte, N.C.) and senior Casey Hicks (Henderson, Nev.). The Bison added two more runs in the third inning as they led 4-0 early.
The Storm (22-14) threatened with a comeback in the top of the fourth. With bases loaded and only one out, Keuka was able to pick up a run when starting pitcher junior Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.) hit a Storm batter with a pitch. Holsworth (8-2) was able to hold off the Keuka attack, ending the inning still up three, 4-1, with two consecutive strikeouts.
After three straight scoreless innings from the Bison, senior Chris Guinn (McLoud, Okla.) put the last run of the game on the board as he scored off a Bensman single, 5-1, in the sixth inning. Bensman led the Bison offense going 2-for-3 and recorded three RBI.
Holsworth pitched a complete game and allowed one run on seven hits, walked two and struck out nine.