FERRUM, VA-The York College baseball team had a rough day during the opening of the 2007 NCAA Division III Tournament in Ferrum, VA. The Spartans, the third seed in the Ferrum Regional, fell the host Panthers, the sixth seed, 10-2 in the opening round of the tournament. The Spartans have now lost four straight NCAA tournament games dating back to the Spartans’ 5-1 loss to Christopher Newport in the 2002 Winston-Salem Regional.
The green and white got on the board first as Ryan Poff (York, PA/Spring Grove) singled to center. Freshman Mike Connolly (Selden, NY/Newfield) reached on an error as he sacrificed Poff to second, putting Spartans at first and second with no outs. Junior catcherMike Santoro (Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan) completed a successful sacrifice, moving Poff to third and Connolly to second. Poff then came around to score when Anthony Anzalone (Rocky Point, NY/Rocky Point) grounded out to second.
The threatening skies then opened up, prompting a 35 minute delay prior to the start of the fifth inning. That delay put to a halt the momentum of Spartan starter Chris Brower (Mont Clare, PA/Spring-Ford). In the first four frames, Brower allowed just two base runners on a pair of singles. After the delay, the Panthers tied the game in the top of the fifth. Michael Nolte reached on an error, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on a Jesse Fuller single to left. The damage in the frame could have been much worse as the Panthers put runners at second and third with one out before Brower got a ground out and a fly out to end the threat.
The Panthers captured the lead for good in the top of the sixth as Brower hit back-to-back batters to kick start the Ferrum rally. Justin Franklin then laid down a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt that turned into a base hit as it found no-man’s land between the mound and third, loading the bases for the Panthers. After force play got the Spartans’ an out at the plate, Daniel Heatwole singled through the left side out the reach of a diving Jeff Young, plating a pair, giving Ferrum the 3-1 lead.
York trimmed the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth as Santoro reached on a one-out error, advanced to second on hit batter and scored when Dennis Maxim (Port Jefferson Station, NY/St. Anthony’s) singled to center.
The Panthers added two key insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Brett Thomas singled to lead off the frame, stole second and scored when Nick Baker singled to right. Baker advanced to second on the throw to the plate and then came home when Franklin singled down the first base line. Brower was able to get himself out of further trouble with a strikeout and a fly out to right.
After York went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, the rains came again. This time the rain delay was 1:30 as the teams took shelter in the dugout. The rain did little to relieve the Spartans' pain as the Panthers scored two more runs in the eighth and three in the ninth to close out the scoring.
Ferrum's Ryan Cooper earned the win for the Panthers as he survived a combined two-plus hours of rain delays to toss the complete game. Cooper allowed two unearned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks in the nine-inning effort. He improves to 4-3 for the season.
Brower took the loss for the green and white has he falls to 8-3. The Spartan ace allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk in seven innings of work. He has now lost two straight for the first time this year. Senior Brendan Gilroy (Ridley Park, PA/Ridley) tossed the final two innings and allowed five runs on six hits with a strikeout and a walk.
Offensively, Brent Sowers paced the Panthers as the centerfielder went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He also stole four bases as the Panthers swiped eight bases for the game. Ferrum has now recorded 108 stolen bases this season. Baker went 2-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored while Franklin was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Fuller and Thomas each contributed a pair of knocks to the 15-hit Panther attack.
The Spartans had five singles in the game as their offense continues to struggle. Maxim and Anzalone each had an RBI while Poff and Santoro scored runs for York.
The Spartans return to action on Thursday morning at 1:15 as they face the loser of the Salisbury - Villa Julie game that will be held later tonight. The Panthers will face the winner of that contest on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.