The Elizabethtown College baseball team is fighting for a playoff spot. After a tough 9-3 loss to Stevenson University on April 11, the Blue Jays rebounded and won 7-2 against Albright College on April 13.
Stevenson gave Etown momentum early on with some errors. On Wednesday, senior Steve Motika was able to drive sophomore Ian Smith and first-year Tyler Weary in to score. First-year Kris Davis threw four scoreless innings against Stevenson before giving up three runs in the fifth, and then a four run streak in the sixth, which put the game out of reach for Etown. First-year Luke Gatti scored Etown’s third run. “We play for tomorrow and take this one game at a time,” Davis said, despite the loss.
First-year Taras Letnaunchyn took the mound in the first game against Albright Friday. He had a quality start in his sixth win, by pitching six innings, giving up two earned runs and four strikeouts. His win improved his season record to 6-1. “We have the confidence to win,” Letnaunchyn said. “We have the talent to as well. We need to put it all together, and we have a good chance to make the playoffs.”
Junior Matt Ruth relieved Letnaunchyn for three scoreless innings with only one hit, to earn his first save of the season. Senior Tim Rosser and junior Dillon Tagle both reached base in the first inning. Senior Matt Reade and junior Brian Verdelli each hit an RBI single in the first inning to get them to score, and gain an early lead.
In the fourth inning, first-year Ryan Haggerty doubled. Weary followed up by singling and sending Haggerty home. Weary proceeded to steal second and third base, but the bad throw to third base enabled him to run home and score a run to expand the lead to 4-1. In the next inning Verdelli hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the fifth run of the game. In the seventh inning, Motika had an RBI hit to extend the lead to 6-2. Weary hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to drive in the final run of the game, with the final score being 7-2. “I am very pleased with our results,” Head Coach Cliff Smith said.
“First we have to qualify for the playoffs,” Smith said. “We have to take one game at a time, especially our conference games. Winning this series is crucial. We want to have the tiebreaker over the other teams.”
Etown proceeded to play a doubleheader against Albright on Saturday. In the first game, the Blue Jays started out strong and won 10-6. Eight different players scored for the Jays. The eighth inning turned out to be crucial for Etown, as the score was tied at 4-4 at the top of the inning. Etown then went on to score six runs, giving them a 10-4 edge. Albright attempted a comeback by scoring two runs, but the Blue Jays’ offense was too much. Sophomore Vaclav Hasik pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first win of the season. Hasik also held Albright hitless.
During the second game, Etown could not keep the strong offense going. They jumped to a two-run lead, as Gable and Rosser scored off RBI at bats from Motika and Smith in the first inning.
However, the lead lasted until the fourth inning, when Albright scored three runs, to gain a 3-2 lead. Albright then scored two more runs in the fifth inning. Albright’s pitching kept the Blue Jays scoreless for the rest of the game, allowing the Lions to seal a 5-2 victory. Junior Jake Hoffstein factored in the loss for the Blue Jays, giving him a 1-3 record on the season. “We didn’t win the last game, but we won the series, which was important,” Davis said.
The Blue Jays’ next game was at Rowan University on Tuesday. Etown fell 4-3 to the No. 22 Profs even though they lead 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Motika led the offense with three hits.