W&J clinches PAC top seed with two wins over Grove City

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GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The Washington & Jefferson baseball team clinched the top seed in the upcoming PAC tournament with two wins over Grove City this afternoon in Grove City, Pa.

With the doubleheader sweep today, the Red & Black widen its lead to six games over the next best team in the conference with four PAC bouts left on the season. W&J is now 19-1 in conference and 25-9 overall, while the Wolverines drop to 13-7 in league play and 23-13 overall. 

Game One
The first game today was a pitching duel that swung in the Presidents' favor after a second-inning grand slam from Dante Dalesandro (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon). 

After a scoreless first inning, the Red & Black loaded the bases with a double and back-to-back walks. Dalesandro made Grove City pay with his second career home run to left field. 

The Presidents' two hits in the second stood as the team's final two of the seven-inning game. Fortunately for W&J, Ben Marsico (Bradford Woods, Pa./North Allegheny) was up for the challenge. 

Marsico pitched 5.1 innings, allowing one run with seven strikeouts. The junior improved to 8-1 on the season, which are the most wins the PAC and are tied for fifth in the country. 

Marsico was also helped by outstanding relief appearances from both Mitchell Taufer (Washington, Pa./Bishop Canevin) and Clay Martin (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan). The two seniors went a combined 1.2 innings with neither allowing a base runner. Martin picked up his sixth save of the year with a scoreless seventh. 

Game Two
The second game of today's twin bill saw the Presidents secure an 11-2 triumph behind a grand slam from James Artale (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston). 

W&J took an early 2-0 advantage in the second inning behind an effective small-ball approach. Following two singles and a hit-by-pitch to start the frame, Dalesandro drew an RBI walk to plate Adam Moore (Olean, N.Y./Archbishop Walsh) from third. The next at-bat, Mullen Socha (Independence, Ohio/St. Ignatius) logged an RBI ground out to bring home Jackson Russell (Burke, Va./Robinson).

The Red & Black's lead grew to 4-0 in the top of the fourth. With two on, Dalesandro posted his second RBI of the game with a double to right center. Socha again followed suit with an RBI single through the left side. 

Ahead 4-2 heading into the eighth inning, the Presidents clinched the convincing win with a seven-run frame. Josh Crummer (Great Falls, Va./Flint Hill School) and Artale both had RBI hits in the inning, Crummer's being a single and Artale's being the aforementioned grand slam. 

Dalesandro led all players with three hits in the nightcap to go along with two RBI and two runs scored. Crummer, Artale, Moore and Joey Bolick (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) all finished with two hits each. 

On the pitching mound, Garrett Harstine (New Philadelphia, Ohio/New Philadelphia) picked up the victory with 5.0 innings of one-run ball. The senior struck out seven Wolverines to improve to 6-1 on the year. 
Taufer, Michael Zito (Nashville, Tenn./Hume-Fogg) and Henry Litman (Marietta, Ga./Walton) all made scoreless relief appearances. Taufer struck out three batters, while Zito and Litman each tallied one. 

W&J concludes the regular-season series against Grove City on Monday, April 29, with a 4 p.m. home bout at Ross Memorial Park.