April 13, 2008

Walks and Errors Prove Costly in Loss to N.C. Wesleyan

YORK, PA - The York College baseball team fell to visiting North Carolina Wesleyan on Sunday 11-6 in the Spartans final game before the Capital Athletic Conference tournament. The Spartans drop to 10-22 on the season, while the Bishops improve to 23-10-1.

The game began ominously for the Spartans as Battling Bishop All-American centerfielder Matt Smith cranked a lead-off home run over Jaquet Field's elevated right field fence. Smith, Wesleyan's all-time hits leader, launched the third home run of his senior campaign to give the visitors the early 1-0 lead.

York was able to even the score line in the bottom of the second inning, playing a bit of small ball. Second baseman Ryan Craig (Rocky Point, N.Y./Rocky Point) opened the Spartans' half of the inning by knocking a single through the right side of the infield.  Left-handed hitter Anthony Anzalone (Rocky Point, N.Y./Rocky Point) then flipped a single over the infield to advance Craig to second. Kyle Cook (Pylesville, Md./North Harford) would reach on an infield hit deep into the hole a shortstop to load the bases. Catcher Jimmy Meehan (Mastic, N.Y./Eastport-South Manor Central) drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Both teams would then tack on run in the third frame to knot the score at two. In the top of the fourth, Wesleyan took their third lead of the contest by tallying two more runs with small ball tactics and several walks. All told in the inning, the Bishops recorded a pair of runs to take a 4-2 advantage.

The Wesleyan side proved very generous to their hosts in the bottom of the fourth as several blunders cost the visitors four runs. After a pair of Spartan ground outs, Cook singled to centerfield. Meehan then knocked a ground ball to the second baseman as it looked as if the inning were over. Instead, Bishop first baseman Justin Batts dropped the throw from Travis Beausoleil and gave the Spartans another chance. The alert Cook had scooted around to third on the error and then scored on a wild pitch. Lead off hitter Rob Klinck (Stanhope, N.J./Lenape Valley Regional) walked and put Spartans one first and third with two outs. Mike Connolly (Selden, N.Y./Newfield) delivered a two-out base knock to center to bring home Meehan and knot the score at four. York was then given even more life as Ryan Poff (York, Pa./Spring Grove) reached on a fielding error by Beausoleil which scored Klinck and gave the York side their first lead of the contest. Senior Dennis Maxim (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y./St. Anthony's) then scalded a base hit through the right side of the infield to bring in Connolly. All told, York took great advantage of the extra at-bats and came away in the frame with a 6-4 lead.

Wesleyan chipped away at the Spartan advantage by scoring one run in their half of the fifth. Once again, small ball proved fruitful for the Bishops. After two walks to open the inning, Batts flew out to right and advanced Beausoleil over to third base. In what looked like a freak play, Justin Rahm then popped out to the shortstop Cook in shallow center. Cook's momentum had taken him away from home and Beausoleil challenged the Spartan shortstop in an attempt to take home after the catch. Cook was unable to make a good throw and Beausoleil tallied to cut the lead to 6-5.

The Bishops would tie it up at 6-6 in the top of the seventh. Once again Beausoleil was in the mix, as the Wesleyan second baseman led off the inning with a walk and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a fly out to left by Batts, Spartan pitcher Chris Frankenfield (Blue Bell, PA/Wissahickon) tried to pick-off Beausoleil at second but the throw got away and Beausoleil advanced to third. With two outs and a runner at third, Rahm hit a grounder to Cook at short and it looked as if the inning would be over. But just as with Wesleyan just a few innings prior, the Spartans were unable to finish the play as Anzalone could not scoop the low throw from Cook. Beausoleil scored on the play and the score was once again tied.

Beausoleil was responsible for yet another run in the eighth inning to give his squad the 7-6 advantage. Walks, which proved very costly to the Spartans throughout the game, once again hurt the home squad as Luke Williford received a free pass with one out in the frame. A single from ninth-place hitter Daniel Moore ultimately placed runners on second and third as Williford scooted around to third and Moore moved up on the throw. Smith was then intentionally walked to fill the diamond with Bishops. Beausoleil delivered a sacrifice fly as Wesleyan took the game's final lead.

In the top of the ninth, the visitors added four insurance runs. After loading the bases once more, pinch hitter Justin Tuck capitalized on his lone at-bat of the game with a three run double to the left-centerfield gap. Tuck's two-bagger brought the score to 10-6 in favor of the guests. Bradley Taylor, who came in to pinch run for Tuck, was advanced to third on another expertly executed sacrifice bunt. York was forced to pull the infield in but a slow chopper from Moore to the shortstop Cook scored Taylor who was running on the crack of the bat. Taylor's run provided the final score line of 11-6 Bishops.

Frankenfield takes the loss on the mound for the green and white despite only allowing two runs in 3 and 2/3 innings of relief work. Andrew Webb worked 2 and 1/3 for the Bishops and did not allow a hit as he picked up the win to move to 3-1 on the year.

Cook put in a strong performance for the Spartans both at the plate and in the field. At the dish, the freshman went 2-for-4 including a walk and a run scored. Cook also made several fine defensive plays from his shortstop position including a great full extension dive into shallow left field in the first inning to take away a base hit. Connolly's 2-for-3 showing included two free passes, two runs scored, and one run batted in while Anzalone went 2-for-4 on the day and walked once. 

Beausoleil was simply outstanding for the visitors. The junior second baseman was 1-for-2 from the plate, scored twice, had one R.B.I. and also walked twice as he was seemingly a part of everything the Bishops did offensively. Wesleyan's All-American centerfielder Smith, was 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and one run batted in, receiving one free trip to first base. Batts registered a trio of hits in his four at-bats and came around to score on two separate occasions. The Bishops played great small ball throughout the contest, recording seven sacrifices over the nine innings of play.

The Spartans return to action on Tuesday, April 15, as the green and white travel to Salisbury, MD to take on the Sea Gulls in the first round of the Capital Athletic Conference tournament. The first pitch is slated for 3:30  pm.

GAME BOX

Mike Connelly photo