West Lawn, PA – The Misericordia University baseball team captured its ninth straight MAC Freedom Championship with a 7-6 victory over DeSales University, Monday night at Owls Field.
Ian McCole pitched three innings, allowing one earned run and striking out four batters on the road to being selected MAC Freedom Championships Most Valuable Player. McCole tossed 11 innings, surrendering just two runs with 11 strikeouts in two tournament victories.
Tyler Holzapfel led the Cougars' offense with a three-run home run and a walk. Brady Madden added two RBI while Kenny Jarema went 2-for-3 with two walks and one RBI. The MAC Freedom Player of the Year extended his on-base streak to 31 games.
Parker Abate started the Cougars off with a one-out double to the left-center field gap in the first inning. Steve Weisensee was hit by a pitch in the following at bat and Madden lined a single over the shortstop's head to score Abate, 1-0.
After both runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, Holzapfel launched a 2-1 pitch over the right field fence for his second home run of the weekend to take an early 4-0 lead.
The Bulldogs got two runs back in the second inning with three doubles. Johnny Medina and Sean Hanczaryk opened the inning with consecutive doubles to plate their first run. Cody Mish then hit a double past a diving Holzapfel at first base to pull within two runs, 4-2.
Kyle Melahn entered the game in the third inning in relief of Isaac Snyder. The senior sidearmer was called upon with two outs and a runner on first, striking out Medina with a high fastball to end the potential threat.
DeSales put up three runs in the fourth inning to take its first lead of the night. Isaiah Goodman plated the inning's first run with a bunt single to the pitcher. Robby Lamm and Preston Amato then singled to right field to take a 5-4 lead.
Zach Mason entered the game in the fifth inning and tossed a scoreless frame. Mason struck out two batters swinging and induced a pop up with two runners on base. The senior then retired the side 1-2-3 in the sixth inning, striking out one batter swinging.
In the bottom of the sixth, Misericordia regained the lead with two runs in the inning. Conor Smith started the rally with a one-out bunt single and came around to score on a throwing error in the team's following at bat. With the infield playing shallow, Jarema lined a single into left field to plate Sean Boylan and give the Cougars a 6-5 lead.
McCole was called upon in the seventh inning with a runner on first and tossed a scoreless frame, retiring the next three batters in order.
The Bulldogs knotted the game up in the eighth inning with an RBI single to left field, which fell just beyond the reach of a diving Hughes, 6-6. With runners on first and second with one out, McCole limited the damage with a strikeout and caught stealing. The All-MAC Freedom Pitcher of the Year struck out Amato swinging and Smith fired a strike to third to end the inning.
With two outs in the eighth, Jarema kept the inning alive with a single up the middle. Abate then kept the rally moving with a single to center while Weisensee was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After working a full count, Madden was then hit by a pitch to bring home the game-winning run.
McCole retired the first two batters in the ninth inning, but surrendered back-to-back singles to prolong the game. The sophomore then induced a flyball to left field, which was snagged by Shane Hughes for the game's final out.
The Cougars improved to 32-10 overall and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.