Dramatic rallies and individual milestones abounded in the Muhlenberg baseball team’s 2009 season.
Unfortunately, so did near misses. The Mules lost eight games that were decided by one run or in extra innings. Three of those losses came in the Centennial
Conference and prevented the team from returning the playoffs.
Conti was an Academic All-District selection for the second year in a row.
Muhlenberg finished with a record of 15-22-1 overall, 8-10 in the CC, against a tough schedule that
included five teams that went on the NCAA Tournament and six others that were the first or second seed in their conference tournament.
The Mules fared well against the top competition, splitting with NCAA-bound Husson and Johns Hopkins, defeating Landmark Conference regular-season champion Susquehanna, tying New Jersey Athletic Conference champion New Jersey and losing in the final at-bat to NCAA-bound Rose-Hulman and 29-15 Thiel.
In its first game back from a 3-6 trip to Florida, Muhlenberg scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth – the last on a walkoff single by senior Edward Risener – to defeat Lebanon Valley, 6-5. Nine days later, the Mules plated seven runs, all but one with two out, in the bottom of the ninth to stun St. John Fisher, 10-9. Senior Eric Hammond capped the rally with a two-run triple.
The Mules opened CC play by sweeping Swarthmore, then split with Gettysburg in a doubleheader in which they were down to their final out before rallying to tie the score in both games. The loss in the second game started a seven-game skid that doomed Muhlenberg’s playoff chances.
Rainouts forced the Mules to play two doubleheaders in one late April weekend and resulted in more late-inning magic.
In the first game of the Hopkins twinbill, a three-run
homer by senior John Kalis in the top of the sixth gave Muhlenberg an 8-5 lead in an eventual 8-7 win. The next day, the Mules swept
McDaniel, taking both games in their final at-bat. Risener’s sixth-inning homer in the opener was the difference in a 10-9 win, and two runs in the eighth broke a 7-7 tie in the nightcap.
Kalis hit the first two home runs of his career in 2009 and ended up tied for fifth on the all-time list in total bases (206).
Even in defeat in the last game of the year, Muhlenberg showed its spunk, rallying from a 7-1 deficit to force extra innings before falling to DeSales, 9-7, in the inaugural Alvin H. Butz, Inc. Lehigh Valley College Baseball Showcase at Coca-Cola Park.
Four Mules – Risener, senior Christian Conti and juniors Eric Pomroy and Dan Fisher – recorded their 100th career hit during the season. Hammond, who reached the century mark in hits late in his junior year, became the fifth player in team history to score 100 runs.
Injuries prevented Conti from repeating the all-region success of his junior year, but he still led the team with a .356 batting average, five homers and 23 RBI.
He ended his career as Muhlenberg’s all-time leader in extra-base hits (55) and slugging percentage (.669).
Misciagna’s 2.43 ERA was the lowest by a Mule pitcher with more than 30 innings since 2003.
Joining Conti on the All-CC second team was Kalis, who hit an even .300 as a senior and tied for
fourth on the program’s all-time list with 149 career hits.
Fisher hit .340, led the team in hits (49) and runs scored (35) and set a school record with 14 doubles. Risener batted .333 with four home runs and 30 RBI, and Pomroy (.331) also knocked in 30.
Hammond scored 32 runs, second on the team, and fellow senior Chris Costa closed his career with his best season, hitting .268.
Sophomores Bobby Spindler and Clint Lynch started at third base and catcher, respectively, and combined for 13 doubles and 19 RBI. Two other second-year players, Eli Branzburg and Jeff Puklin, hit over .300 as part-time starters.
On the mound, junior Phil Cresta was the team’s ace again, going 5-3 with a 4.61 ERA. He will enter his senior season tied for third on the all-time list with 16 career wins.
Mike Misciagna had an outstanding senior season out of the bullpen, compiling a 2.43 ERA in 14 appearances. Senior Matthew Ordog notched three saves and struck out 44 batters in 44 innings. Sophomore Jason Daniels won three games.