FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The first day of the 2010 NCAA South Regionals proved a tough one for the York College baseball squad as they suffered a disappointing 6-5 setback at the hands of familiar foe Mary Washington. The Spartan loss, their third in a row, drops the Green and White to 28-15 while the Capital Athletic Conference champion Eagles improve to 27-12.
Down 5-1 to start the bottom of the eighth, and having just given up what could have been a crushing trio of runs in the bottom of the seventh, the Spartans embarked on a marvelous late-inning comeback. Speedy leadoff man Dustin Worthman (Tabernacle, N.J./Seneca) opened the frame with an infield single before Kyle Cook (Pylesville, Md./North Harford) singled through the left side to put runners on first and second. Rick Shumway (Shippensburg, Pa./Shippensburg Area) would jam the bags with the Green and White's third single of the inning. Four-hole hitter Mike Connolly (Selden, N.Y./Newfield) banged a productive ground out to first which brought home Worthman from third. The spry Worthman displayed grit and sheer determination in scoring York's first of the eighth as he plowed into Mary Washington catcher Nick Espinosa in a collision that jarred the ball loose from Espinosa's mitt.
With runners now at second and third, Spartan first baseman CT Stanley (Timonium, Md./Calvert Hall College) knocked home Cook with a sacrifice fly to center, which also allowed Shumway to scoot over to third. Steve Tretter (Ephrata, Pa./Ephrata), who had come on earlier as a pinch hitter, then laced a double down the left field line to pull the Spartans to within one at 5-4.
After Spartan starter Jason Christenberry (Yoe, Pa./Dallastown) retired the Mary Washington side in the bottom of the eighth, facing only four batters in the eighth, the Green and White were primed for one more.
Matt Monti (Easton, Pa./Easton) led off York's half of the ninth with a ringing double, one of the ground-rule variety, into centerfield. Then, with one out, Worthman advanced Monti to third with a ground out to second. This set the stage for what was, at the time, late-game heroics for Cook. With two outs and down one at 5-4 in the first game of NCAA Tournament, the junior third baseman found himself in a hole with two strikes early in the count. Undaunted, the veteran infielder cracked a line drive single into left field to plate Monti and knot the game at 5-5.
However, that would prove the last bit of jubilance the Spartans would have on this day. In the bottom of the ninth, the Eagles quickly loaded the bases as their first three batters in the inning reached. With a drawn-in Spartan infield and outfield, Jackson Clement served a single into right field to scratch across Eric Rehbein for the game's winning run in walk-off fashion.
Christenberry twirled a tremendous ballgame despite suffering the defeat. The senior righty threw 115-plus pitches, scattered nine hits, struck out three, and only allowed three earned runs throughout his technically eight innings of work although he did pitch in the ninth. Interestingly enough, each of Christenberry's three losses this season, he currently owns a strong 9-3 record, have come against Mary Washington.
York struggled defensively behind their ace, especially early in the game, as the Spartans committed five errors – their highest single-game total since being charged with five miscues during their 7-5 los to Gettysburg on March 18.
Rehbein, Christenberry's counterpart on the hill, hurled a 7.2 inning performance while only surrendering seven hits and four earned runs as he struck out three Spartans. Ryan Engelking, who relieved Rehbein in the bottom of the eighth, records the win after tossing 1.1 and only giving up a pair of hits.
For the Spartans, Cook led the offensive charge with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate while also driving in and scoring a run. The majority of the offense was spread around as a total of six Spartans totaled just one hit while five different players each drove in one of York's five runs.
On the Mary Washington side, Clement posted a 3-for-5 day with two RBIs and one run scored to lead the Eagles. Will Wright went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Now facing elimination, in the two-loss tournament format, the Spartans will now have to battle from behind. York takes on Shenandoah on Thursday in a 2:30 pm tilt for the second game of the South Regionals. The Hornets, the top-seed in the south region, bested Bridgewater on Wednesday 11-1.
Photo: Jason Christenberry prepares to throw a pitch at the 2010 NCAA South Regionals