WASHINGTON, Pa. -- The Washington & Jefferson baseball team secured its 12th Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament Championship with an 8-1 victory over Bethany on Saturday afternoon at Ross Memorial Park.
With the win, the Red & Black improve to 32-11 overall and secure a spot in the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship. The conference title is the 12th in program history and the eighth under the watchful eye of head coach Jeff Mountain.
The Presidents' offense caught fire in the top of the first inning, taking a 5-0 lead to kick off the game. As the visiting on the scoreboard, the Red & Black got the rare opportunity to bat at the top of the inning in their home park.
The first run of the game came from Josh Crummer (Great Falls, Va./Flint Hill School), who smashed a double to right center to plate Mullen Socha (Independence, Ohio/St. Ignatius) and Dante Dalesandro (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon). Spencer Howell (Oakwood, Ohio/Oakwood) then stepped to the plate and hit a double of his own to drive home Crummer. The final two runs came from a two-RBI single from Justin Griffin (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard East).
The Bison settled in and held the Presidents quiet until the fourth inning. In the fourth, James Artale (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) continued his impressive tournament with a two-RBI single, his eighth and ninth of the event.
W&J's lead grew to 8-1 in the top of the fifth with a Dalesandro RBI single to left. Dalesandro brought Shayne Erny (North Ridgeville, Ohio/St. Edward) home from second following a walk and a wild pitch.
The fifth inning on was all about pitching, as neither team scored after five. Santino Platt (Pittsburgh, Pa./OLSH) made the start and went a season-best 7.0 innings, allowing just one run. Platt conceded just three hits and struck out two in one of his best starts of the year. He picked up the victory, taking a 6-4 overall record into the NCAA Tournament.
From there, Mountain leaned on his most-used relievers to close out the game. First, Mitchell Taufer (Washington, Pa. / Bishop Canevin) entered in the eighth and needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order. Then, Clay Martin (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) tossed W&J's second straight 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to seal the victory.
As champions, the Presidents sent four to the PAC All-Tournament Team. Platt was selected for his outstanding performance with a championship on the line. Joining him were Artale, Howell and Socha. Artale hit .500 (7-for-14) with two homers, nine RBIs and three runs scored. Howell also hit .500 (6-for-12) with one home run, two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. Socha tallied two doubles, five runs scored and two RBIs with a .417 batting average (5-for-12).
The Presidents await their draw into the NCAA Tournament, as the field and game locations will be released on Monday, May 13. W&J will next play in the regional round play scheduled for Friday-Sunday, May 17-19. The Super Regionals are slated for Friday-Saturday, May 24-25.