Baseball Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive With Sweep Of Catholic, Clinches Back-To-Back 20-Win Seasons
|Bobby Della Polla||Michael Gaeta|
|Sean Butler||Michael Umerich|
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The University of Scranton baseball team came into the weekend knowing it needed to sweep its three-game series at Catholic University to earn a spot in the Landmark Conference playoffs. The Royals are two-thirds of the way there after 4-3 and 8-5 wins over the Cardinals on Saturday.
The win also improves the Royals to 20-15 overall and 9-8 in the Landmark Conference, giving them back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history.
Scranton will face Catholic on Sunday at noon needing one more win to clinch a playoff spot. The Royals are tied with Drew for fourth place in the conference, a game behind Catholic. A win Sunday guarantees Scranton the third seed in next weekend’s Landmark Conference playoff while a loss would leave them in fifth, one spot out of the playoffs.
The Royals won the opener behind the left arm of junior Bobby Della Polla (Havertown, Pa./St. Joseph’s Preparatory), who went the distance and struck out 11 for the victory. He allowed just two earned runs on seven hits and three walks in the win.
Scranton rallied from a one-run deficit to take a 2-1 lead on an RBI sacrifice fly by freshman left fielder Ross Danzig (Clarks Green, Pa./Abington Heights/Blair Academy, N.J.) in the third and an RBI ground out by senior first baseman Mark Grambo (Clarks Summit, Pa./Scranton Preparatory) an inning later.
After the Cardinals (23-15, 10-7 Landmark) scored a run in the fifth, the Royals took the lead for good on a two-run single by sophomore outfielder Michael Gaeta (Cranford, N.J./Cranford) in the sixth. Catholic scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Della Polla got his final strikeout to end the game with runners on second and third.
In the nightcap, the Royals led the entire way after senior second baseman Jesse Outhouse (Croton Falls, N.Y./North Salem) drove in a run in the second with an RBI double, and sophomore designated hitter Eric Pizzico (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford) had an RBI double and Gaeta added an RBI groundout in the third.
Scranton stretched the lead to 5-1 on a two-run homer by senior right fielder Sean Butler (Dickson City, Pa./Scranton High School) in the fifth. Catholic cut the lead to 5-4 with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth, but Scranton put the game away with the runs in the seventh when Butler scored on a wild pitch and freshman outfielder Michael Umerich (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) ripped a two-run double.
Senior Rocky Sawyer (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings for his fourth straight win. Junior Corey Gorman (Laflin, Pa./Coughlin) got the final four outs for his first save. Danzig finished with three hits, and Umerich, Gaeta and Outhouse had two each.