YORK, Pa. – The fourth-seeded Stevenson University baseball team suffered a pair of losses and was eliminated from the 2016 MAC Commonwealth Baseball Championship Saturday at PeoplesBank Park. The Mustangs fell 11-7 to second-seeded Widener in the winners' bracket final, then were edged 3-1 by No. 3 seed Messiah in Saturday night's elimination game.
Stevenson (21-22) was making its second straight MAC Commonwealth championship appearance.
In the nightcap, the Mustangs outhit Messiah (24-18) 12-7, but stranded a total of 11 runners on base. Stevenson grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth when senior Craig Joseph led off with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt, and scored when senior Nick Peifer singled to left-center.
Messiah grabbed two runs in the seventh on a single by Sam Stewart, then made it 3-1 in the eighth when a Ben Sollenberger single plated Austin Mellinger.
In the eighth, the Mustangs had Kopas and Peifer reach on back-to-back two out singles. Freshman Ryan Valentine, pinch-running for Kopas, tried to score when pinch hitter Billy Small reached on an error, but was gunned down at the plate.
Stevenson loaded the bases in the ninth. Sophomore Jake Hall singled to open the frame. Following a strikeout, sophomore John D'Aquanno singled up the middle to give Stevenson runners at the corners. A fly ball by senior Ian Eberly moved D'Aquanno to second, and the bases were loaded when freshman Matthew Kerber was hit by a pitch. Messiah brought in MAC Commonwealth Pitcher of the Year Steven Ridings to close the game out, and he did so, inducing a flyout to right by Joseph to end the game.
Joseph and Peifer each finished with three hits in their final collegiate game, while D'Aquanno was 2-4. Freshman James Wiercinski took the loss, allowing three hits and two runs in 6.1 innings of work. Senior Alec Romanowski came on in the seventh, allowing four hits and one run over the final 1.2 innings.
In the opener, Stevenson fell behind 5-1 following the third, but clawed its way back to within 7-6 midway through the sixth before Widener (23-16-1) posted a four-run bottom half of the sixth.
Stevenson grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first as Kerber scored after reaching on a one-out single and scoring on a ground out by Kopas. The Pride scored twice in the bottom half of the first, then plated three more runs in the third to build a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth, Joseph led off with a single and scored on a single by senior Matt Myers, while a Hall sac fly plated Kopas, who followed Joseph's single with a walk. After Widener answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, a two-run single by Myers in the fifth made it a 7-5 ballgame. The Mustangs made it 7-6 in the sixth when a Joseph single to right scored D'Aquanno, but two home runs in the Pride half of the sixth made it 11-6.
Stevenson's final run came in the eighth when pinch hitter Jonathan Lugo reached on an infield single and scored on an error following a Kerber single.
Kerber, Joseph and Myers each finished with two hits as the Mustangs were outhit 10-9. Freshman Christopher Perez took the loss, allowing five runs in 2.1 innings of work.