Mustangs Drop Commonwealth Conference Slugfest to Messiah, 16-11

STEVENSON, Md. - Stevenson baseball juniors Tom Goulian (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon) and Scott Merkel (Hampstead, Md./Calvert Hall) combined for eight hits and five runs, but the Mustangs could not overcome Messiah's season-high 16 runs and 21 hits as the Falcons posted a key 16-11 Commonwealth Conference victory Friday at Park Field.

The loss was just the fifth in 19 home games for Stevenson (21-12, 10-6 MAC) this season, but dropped the team into third place in the Commonwealth Conference standings for the moment as the other three conference contests scheduled for Friday were all postponed until Sunday.

Meanwhile, Messiah (13-18, 8-8 MAC) moved a half-game ahead of idle Widener for the fourth and final spot in the 2013 Commonwealth Conference Baseball Championship, two games behind Stevenson.

By totaling a career-high five hits, Goulian extended his hitting streak to 13 games and is the first player to record five hits since Tony Prescott had five in a 12-11 victory versus St. Mary's (Md.) in the second round of the 2012 CAC Baseball Championship.

Goulian's hitting streak is the second-longest on the team since 2009. Justin Anderson had a hit in 14 consecutive games to start the 2012 season.

During his 13-game hitting streak, Goulian is hitting .518 (29-for-56) with seven doubles and 12 RBIs. He has also stolen three bases and has a .500 on-base percentage.

The Falcons scored five runs in the top of the first on Friday, highlight by a three-run triple from Jeremiah Eaton, but the Mustangs answered with four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to pull within one. Sophomore Bret Schilling (Catonsville, Md./Mount Saint Joseph) had a two-run single to score the team's final two runs.

Messiah added three runs in the top of the second on a three-run homer by Paul Mellinger and added one each in the fourth and fifth before Stevenson tied the game at 10-10 after scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth.

However, the Falcons added three more runs in the top of the sixth on a three-run homer by Casey Ebersole to regain the lead for good.

The Mustangs scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, but allowed Messiah five in the first and three in each in the second, sixth and eighth.

Senior Heath Johnson (Wilmington, Del./Charter School of Wilmington) hit his first career home run in the third, a solo shot to left, for the first of his two RBIs on the day. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk and regained the team-lead in batting average from sophomore Troy Miller (Shrewsbury, Pa./Susquehannock) who went 1-for-6.

Johnson is now hitting .385 this season while Goulian is batting .377 and Miller is at .372.

Merkel was 2-for-5 with two RBIs while senior Matt Bratter (Flanders, N.J./Mount Olive) went 3-for-5.

Both starting pitchers, Stevenson freshman Alec Romanowski (Endwell, N.Y./Maine Endwell) and Messiah's Jon Lapp, did not fare well as they combined to allow 19 hits and 17 earned runs over 6.1 innings of work.

However, both received a no decision as the Falcons' Adam Marshall allowed just seven hits and two earned runs over the final 4.2 innings to improve his record to 3-1 this season.

Junior Ryan Kellough (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone) suffered his third loss in four decisions for the Mustangs after surrendering five earned runs on eight hits over 4.0 innings.

Stevenson and Messiah conclude their three-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday at the Messiah College Baseball Complex. First pitch is at 1:00 p.m.