Elizabethtown splits with Albright, wins series

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Game 1: Box Score (XML) | Box Score (HTML)
Game 2: Box Score (XML) | Box Score (HTML)

READING, Pa. – Albright's four-run fourth inning and 12 stranded runners for the Elizabethtown baseball team earned the Lions a 7-5 win in game one of a Commonwealth Conference doubleheader at Kelchner Field Sunday and put the Blue Jays in a must-win game two. Nick Gulla and Josh Kwak delivered with a two-hitter and the bats broke out as E-town took the series with a 15-2 victory.

Game two became much more important for both teams following game one's outcome, at least for the time being. The Blue Jays (13-13, 6-9 CC) and Lions sported matching conference records coming into the day as each tries to chase down Lebanon Valley for the final playoff spot.

Albright, which fell to the Jays 3-0 in the series opener nearly two weeks ago, didn't experience the same offensive issues in game one as they put two runs (one earned) up against Dylan Manning in the bottom of the first.

Methodically, the visitors got themselves a lead by the top of the fourth. Luke Gatti's RBI single in the second and Tyler Weary's sacrifice fly in the third tied the game. Frank Ragozzino's first career home run, with two outs in the fourth, put the Blue Jays ahead.

But the lead changed again in the bottom of the inning, as three hits and an error led to four Albright (8-12, 6-9 CC) runs. Micah Storms hit a two-run single and Nate Peiffer later tripled in another pair.

E-town got as close as 6-5 with two runs in the fifth. Brian Portillo drove home Tyler Weary and an error brought Portillo around to account for the runs. Matt Costa managed to get out of the sixth unscathed, despite allowing two hits and committing an error.

Trey Eberle shut down the door against the Blue Jays, who had a runner 90 feet from home in each of the last two innings, for his second save.

Manning took the loss in game one, giving up six runs (four earned) over 3.1 innings. Taras Letnaunchyn struck out two and allowed a run while getting the final eight outs.

Weary and Gatti had two hits apiece for E-town, which outhit the Lions 10-7. Peiffer's two hits and two RBIs, and Zac Okonski's 2-for-3, two-run game led Albright.

Game two belonged to the Blue Jays early, as they scored a run in the first and struck for a five-spot in the second to go ahead 6-0. They added to that total with two in the fourth and six in the fifth to make it 14-2.

Six different players: Kyle Fackler, Weary, Kyle Gable, Sean Jones, Gatti and Alex Holbert, hit doubles for Elizabethtown in game two. The six two-baggers were a season-high and the most in a game for the Jays since hitting six in a late season tilt with Widener April 20 last spring.

Gulla and Kwak were able to handle the Lions offense. Gulla, though effectively wild, allowed Albright's only two hits and runs while walking six in 3.2 innings. Kwak improved to 3-0 with 3.1 innings of hitless, scoreless work. Since a rough relief outing at Arcadia, the freshman has not allowed more than a run in any of his last three appearances.

Gable was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The Emmaus native raised his batting average to a team-best .373 and also stole his 14th base in 15 tries.

Holbert added three runs and three hits, while Fackler, Weary and Jones all had two hits each. The Jays' 17 hits in the game came from 10 different players. Pinch hitters Ryan Schamp and Colton King each singled in their only trips to the dish.

Holbert (3), Fackler (2), Weary (2), Gable (2), Manning (2) and Gatti (2) all scored multiple runs.

Albright starter William Nicoletto was hammered for 10 runs (six earned) on nine hits in four frames. His bullpen didn't fare much better, as Julian Cimino allowed five hits and four runs in one-third of an inning.

With both teams taking a game, each remains two games back of fourth-place LVC. Elizabethtown holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over the Lions by virtue of the series victory, however.

E-town finishes the conference slate with Widener (April 17-18) and Lebanon Valley (April 25-26), but starts the week with a non-league game at Susquehanna Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Frank Ragozzino vs. Stevenson 3/22/14