Falcons Piece Together Win Over York
Grantham, PA - The Messiah Falcons (8-19) captured their second straight win on Tuesday afternoon, knocking off the visiting York College Spartans by a 4-2 score.
Seniors Zach Adams and Davin Okerblom combined to throw six strong frames on the mound, sophomore Jon Lapp closed the game out, and a three-run seventh inning propelled Messiah to a win.
"I think the young men are playing with a little bit of confidence and sometimes the ball just bounces your way," Messiah head coach Steve DeRiggs said. "I think it's just a matter of us thinking more positively and executing pretty well out there. We've had a nice two days, and I think we are playing with composure and I think as a team we are starting to put it together."
Pressed for starting pitchers, the Falcons started Adams on the mound and used five pitchers in the contest. Making his first collegiate start, Adams tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four. He then handed the ball to Okerblom, who threw three innings, allowing just a long run in the sixth inning.
"(Zach) and (Davin) were outstanding," DeRiggs said. "We were very pleased with the pitchers, and they threw well, and we were able to close out the game.
Excellent pitching from both sides stole the show early on, as freshman hurler Josh Miller of the Spartans took a shutout into the seventh inning against the Falcons.
Meanwhile, Adams and Okerblom were masterful at pitching their way out of jams: Adams escaped a two-on situation in both the first and third inning, and held Spartan hitters to 0-for-7 when batting against him with a man on base. Okerblom managed to work his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth inning when he recorded a big strikeout and induced a double play.
The Spartans came through with a run in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead, and it looked like Messiah would counter in the bottom of the inning when senior Sam Tajiri and Lapp reached on bunt singles and senior Ryan Brown was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Unbelievably, three consecutive infield pop ups negated the rally, leaving the Falcons without a single run to show.
Messiah finally broke the ice in the seventh inning when freshman Derek Drake led off with his first collegiate triple. Junior Matt Turman drew a one-out walk and a single by Tajiri was ruled dead when it hit the field umpire, loading the bases. Fortunately, the Falcons finally caught a break when Lapp's ground ball to the shortstop was booted, allowing Drake and Turman to score, and giving Messiah a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
Brown followed with an RBI single to add to the scoring, and Mellinger's RBI single made it 4-1.
The Spartans scored a run in the eighth inning on a walk, wild pitch, balk, and error, but Lapp came in from third base to save the ninth inning and secure a 4-2 Falcons win.
"Lapp has the experience," DeRiggs said. "He closed out the championship game last year. He's a gamer, and we were flip-flopping people today, and we thought he was the best guy to go with to close it out."
Messiah also received several top defensive plays – Lapp's diving catch on a foul pop up in the fourth inning was among the plays of the year for the Falcons, and Brubaker handled a number of chances at shortstop flawlessly, turning a double play with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and snaring the game-ending line drive with two on in the ninth.
"I think it comes down to mental preparation and playing not tight," DeRiggs said. "Playing relaxed and yet still focused is what we've been doing. It's hard to focus with so many walks, and we've been better at that the last two games, and the defense has been playing more focused and loose."
For the day, Lapp highlighted the contributions from Messiah, as the sophomore singled and scored in four trips to the plate, adding a terrific catch in the field and nailing down the save in the ninth inning. Brown collected a single, double, and a walk, while Drake and Tajiri added a pair of hits apiece.
Messiah hosts Widener University in a conference matchup on Friday, with game time for that matchup slated for 3:30 p.m. The two teams square off in a doubleheader at Widener on Saturday, with the first pitch of those contests set to be thrown at 12:00 p.m.