Hungerford pitches No. 21 Gettysburg into Centennial final

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Junior Eric Hungerford spun a three-hit complete game and shut down third-seeded Muhlenberg College over the final four innings, lifting the top-seeded and 21st-ranked Gettysburg College baseball team to a 2-1 victory in the winner's bracket of the Centennial Conference (CC) championship tournament Saturday afternoon at Kirchhoff Field.
With the win, the Bullets (33-6) advance to the CC Championship game for the first time in program history and will meet second-seeded Haverford College (20-18) back at Kirchhoff Field at noon on Sunday. The Fords emerged from the loser's bracket with a 4-3 victory over fourth-seeded Johns Hopkins University (22-18) and an 8-6 win over Muhlenberg (17-20-1).
Gettysburg needs just one victory to claim the conference title while Haverford will need to win twice to capture the crown.
The Bullets have now won three more games than any team in program history. Last year's squad that finished 30-13 held the previous record for wins in a season.
Hungerford (7-0) allowed just an unearned run in the fifth, and after hitting the leadoff batter in the sixth he retired the final 12 Mules he faced, when he allowed the ball to leave the infield just once. He struck out five, did not walk a batter, and induced a pair of double plays early in the game.
Juniors Cory Karagjozi and Scott Zanghellini each had two hits for the Bullets while senior Nate Simon tied the career school record for RBIs, knocking in the 128th run of his career. Senior Patrick O'Grady pushed across the go-ahead run with a groundout in the sixth.
"I guess the adrenaline started kicking in," said Hungerford, on his strong finish. "I started locating my fastball a little better as the game went on, and it had some movement. I could throw my curveball for strikes when I needed to which was very helpful."
The Bullets never trailed after scoring an unearned run in the third against starter David Anderson, who threw all eight innings for Muhlenberg. Karagjozi ripped a one-out single before senior Al Posch reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Simon followed up with a hard-hit single up the middle to bring home Karagjozi and make it 1-0.
Hungerford, in the meantime, worked out of a jam in the second. Kurt Johnson singled with one out, then moved to second on a balk. A Nick Plinio single put runners on the corners, but that's when the Bullets rolled up a 3-6 double play. Karagjozi fielded a ground ball and stepped on first before throwing to second, where the shortstop Zanghellini applied the tag before Johnson crossed the plate.
The Mules went three-up, three-down over the next two innings before breaking scratching out their lone run in the fifth. Johnson doubled down the leftfield line, then moved to third on an infield error that placed runners on the corners. Kennedy then chopped a high bouncer to third, where Simon leaped in the air to make the grab before starting a 5-4-3 double play that emptied the bases and brought home Johnson to make it 1-1.
Hungerford got the final out in the fifth before hitting John Icaza to lead off the sixth. But he responded by striking out Muhlenberg's Nos. 2-3 hitters and inducing an inning-ending groundout before tossing three straight perfect innings en route to his fifth complete game of the season and 14th of his career.
Senior Tommy LeNoir and junior Mike Kielbasa sparked Gettysburg in the sixth, leading off with back-to-back singles. Zanghellini bunted both runners over before O'Grady went after the first pitch and bounced it up the middle. The shortstop Johnson, ranging toward second base, had no play but to throw it to first, allowing LeNoir to score.
Anderson (3-4) got the final out of the inning before standing a Bullet in scoring position in each of the last two innings. He allowed eight hita, walked none, and struck out one.
Haverford, which lost its first-round game to Muhlenberg on Thursday, bounced back with a thrilling victory over Johns Hopkins in the first elimination game Saturday morning, winning on a walk-off suicide squeeze bunt from Mike Tentilucci. After Gettysburg's win over Muhlenberg, the Fords held off a late Muhlenberg rally, as the Mules scored once in the top of the ninth but left the bases loaded to end the game.