BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The University of Scranton baseball team clinched a berth in the Landmark Conference playoffs by splitting a doubleheader at Moravian on Saturday. The Royals (15-20, 9-9 Landmark) won the opener 7-3 before dropping an 8-4 decision to the Greyhounds (20-19-1, 12-6 Landmark) in the nightcap, despite turning a triple play in the bottom of the first inning.
Scranton entered the day needing to win at least as many games as Drew did in its twin bill at Elizabthtown. Both teams won their openers on Saturday meaning either Scranton win or a Drew loss would send the Royals back to the postseason. It was the later that happened as the Rangers were defeated by the Blue Jays, 12-3.
Scranton will by the #4 seed in this year's postseason tournament and will face top-seeded Susquehanna at 3:30 next Friday to open the playoffs. Moravian, the #2 seed, will take on #3 Catholic in Friday's second game starting at 7 p.m.
The double-elimination tournament will be played at Scranton's Volpe Field Friday-Sunday, May 10-12 with the conference champion earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Bobby Hegarty (Wantagh, N.Y/Wantagh) spun a complete game in Saturday's opener to lead Scranton to the all-important win as the righty made an early, two-run advantage stand before the two teams combined for eight runs in the final inning.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second as junior Travis Adams (Clark, N.J./St. Joseph's Metuchen) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before sophomore Kevin Johnson (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) came home as classmate Matthew Pinto (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Massapequa) reached on a fielder's choice.
The score remained 2-0 in favor of Scranton heading into the visitor's seventh when the Royals plated five runs on four hits to open up a seven-run advantage. Freshman Chris Wagner (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) worked a bases-loaded walk before Johnson and junior Matt Fisch (Spring Brook Township, Pa./North Pocono) connected on two-run singles.
A three run home run by the Greyhounds with two outs in the seventh spoiled Hegarty's shutout bid, but the junior clamped down to record the final out for his third win of the season. The junior scattered nine hits and did not walk a batter while picking up one strikeout.
Pinto, Johnson, and senior Ian McIntosh (Newtown, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.) had two hits apiece for Scranton in Saturday's opener with Johnson adding two RBI and two runs scored.
In Saturday's nightcap, Moravian rallied with six runs in the sixth and seventh innings to salvage a split and secure the #2 seed in next weekend's postseason's tournament, but the Royals turned in the defensive highlight of the day, turning a triple play in the bottom of the first.
After the first two Greyhound batters reached, Scranton turned a 4-3-6 triple play with junior Brandon Peters (Peckville, Pa./Valley View) snagging a line drive at second for one, tossing it to junior first baseman Kevin Haag (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining/Bridgton Academy (Maine)) for two, who then fired to the shortstop Adams at second to complete the triple play.
Moravian would break through for a pair of runs the following inning before Scranton tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth with Haag connecting on a solo home run and Peters adding an RBI groundout.
An RBI single from McIntosh in the visitor's fifth gave the Royal a 3-2 edge, but the Greyhounds tied it up in the sixth before using a five-run seventh to open up an 8-3 advantage.
A sacrifice fly from sophomore Connor Harding (Vestal, N.Y./Vestal) in the top of the ninth brought an end to the scoring.
Senior Bryan Carmon (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) went four innings and yielded two runs on five hits while striking out one batter.
Senior Matt McDonald (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) pitched a scoreless inning before handing the ball off to freshman Ryan Heiser (New Milford, N.J./Saint Joseph Regional), who surrendered four runs in 1.1 innings.
Sophomore Matt Morrow (Bethlehem, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic) worked the final 1.2 innings with two runs against while picking up two strikeouts.
Haag went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks while McIntosh and Johnson had two hits apiece in the loss for the Royals.
Scranton closes out the regular season with a non-conference game against Keystone on Sunday at Volpe Field. First pitch between the Royals and Giants is set for 1:30 p.m. in Scranton.