Moravian Wins 7th Straight With 10-4 Defeat of Misericordia

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The theme of unity has been strong on the 2014 version of the Moravian College baseball team and it was on display again on Monday evening in its seventh consecutive victory, a 10-4 defeat of Misericordia University at Gillespie Field in non-conference action.

The Greyhounds came together in the fourth inning to combine on six runs and seven hits in support of senior starting pitcher Robert Solano, who improved to 2-0 after pitching a complete game on Monday. None of the Cougars' runs were earned as the senior hurler scattered eight hits while striking out three without any walks. Solano is now tied for ninth in the school record books with 12 career wins.

"I know hitting is contagious," head coach Paul Engelhardt said of his squad's 16-hit effort. "This is a close team with a lot of great guys, and they definitely play for each other and pick each other up. It seems once you start having a big inning, everyone just gets into it. That big inning today set the tone offensively for a big win at home."

Senior center fielder Joseph Connell was one of 10 different Greyhounds with a hit on Monday. The co-captain was hitting .229 heading into Monday, but started to turn things around with a 3-for-4 day at the plate with two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.

Connell has been hampered by a nagging injury this season, but playing through it seems to be paying off for the Greyhounds' center fielder. Connell picked up two hits and an RBI in Moravian's 5-2 win over Juniata on Saturday.

"It was a good day and Rob pitched great," said Connell, who leads the team with nine stolen bases this season and has not made an error since his freshman year. "I've been bothered by the injury, but it's been nice these last few games coming out of a slow start. The pain makes a difference on my swing. It doesn't hurt in the field or on the bases, but I needed to find a way to swing without pain. I'm trying to forget about it and that could be a good thing for the team."

Engelhardt admits his senior captain is playing through some pain, and knows that he could return to All-Region form before long.

"He is still injured, but he's learning how to swing with it," Engelhardt said. "He has hit some balls very hard these last few games and we need him to do that. If this kid heats up, I think this team takes another step."

Senior catcher Matthew Gutkes ended the Cougars' half of the fourth inning by throwing out a would-be base stealer as junior shortstop Colin Case made the sweeping tag for the final out.

Sophomore first baseman Charles Savite led off the critical bottom of the fourth inning with a single through the right side and advanced to third when sophomore designated hitter Alex Bull sliced a double down the left field line. With just one out, junior left fielder Justin Pilchman started the scoring rally with a two-run single that chopped up the middle.

Connell followed with the first of four consecutive hits for the Greyhounds. Freshman right fielder Anthony Gaetaniello, making his first career start, then hit an RBI single to bring home Bull. Case made it a 5-0 advantage by pulling a two-run double down the left field paint.

With Case on third and still just one out, senior second baseman Daniel Seitzinger laid down a squeeze attempt with precise accuracy and ended up with an RBI bunt single to make it 6-0 Greyhounds.

Gaetaniello finished 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI in his first start, something that can become a habit if the freshman continues to show what he can do at the plate.

"The kid has speed to burn," Engelhardt said "He's worked really hard for this. We've put him in during just about every game in big spots, trying to push him across for a run. I see good things for him in the future, but he's competing right now for a starting position. After today, he has earned the right to be considered that way."

Misericordia battled back with a two-out rally in the top of the sixth, getting four unearned runs off Solano on five hits and two Moravian errors. Three of the Cougars' RBIs came with two outs in the inning and after a Greyhound error should have ended the frame.

The Greyhounds added insurance runs in the bottom of sixth and seventh innings for a 10-4 lead. Junior third baseman Ryan Luke singled home Case and Gaetaniello for two RBIs in the sixth and Connell followed suit in the seventh with a two-RBI single of his own.

Seitzinger, Savite and Pilchman all had two hits in the victory.

Misericordia's Miles Westrich was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Max German and Jeremy DeCotiis each knocked in a run for the Cougars.

The Greyhounds look to extend their winning streak when they head back to Juniata College on Tuesday, April 1 to resume the Landmark Conference series that was rained out last weekend. Moravian will be looking to improve a 5-1 mark in the conference with a doubleheader at Juniata scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.