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Muhlenberg College

Sunday, April 6, 2008

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Baseball grounds high-flying blue jays

Ordog helped the underdogs feel like top dogs.

Junior Matthew Ordog pitched a brilliant game against a fearsome Johns Hopkins lineup to lift the Muhlenberg baseball team to an 8-5 win in the second game of a Centennial Conference doubleheader.

The Blue Jays (17-4, 6-1) came into the day ranked ninth in
John Kalis
Kalis, who broke up the perfect game with a single up the middle in Game 1, was the second Mule in five days to hit two triples in a game. Muhlenberg’s 19 three-baggers on the season are five short of the school record.
Division III by and 21st by the American Baseball Coaches Association. They outscored their first five CC opponents by a 75-7 margin and extended their winning streak to 13 by hanging on to win the opener, 7-6

Ordog pitched into the ninth inning, scattering 10 hits and holding Hopkins, which boasted five .400 hitters in the starting lineup, under seven runs for the first time all season.

“You know coming in that one through nine, they’re going to hit the ball,” said Ordog. “I was working on keeping the ball down. If you get a pitch up on this team, it’s going to go a long way.”

Ordog learned that firsthand in the top of the first when the third batter of the game, Rob Pietroforte, hit a two-run bomb to center. It was one of the longest and hardest-hit balls at Cedarcreek Field this season.

“Against a team like this you can’t expect to pitch a no-hitter or a shutout,” commented Ordog. “You have to take [the home run] and keep making pitches.”

That’s just what he did. Ordog allowed runs in only one more inning, and he could have escaped without a run scoring but for an error on a potential inning-ending double play. After the third run crossed the plate in the fifth, he retired 13 of the next 14 hitters.

Ordog, whose previous longest outing this year was five innings, was one strike away from a nine-inning complete game when he gave up an infield single. After a walk, he was lifted in favor of junior Joseph Barrese. With two runners on base, Hopkins looked to tie the game with one swing, sending up a pinch-hitter who had three home runs in 16 at-bats on the season. Barrese struck him out on four pitches to earn his second save.

Backing the clutch pitching was an offense that scored seven runs in four innings against a Blue Jay pitcher who had allowed only four earned runs all season. Muhlenberg (12-12, 3-4) made up the early 2-0 deficit with five in the bottom of the first. After the first run scored on an infield error, junior Edward Risener singled to tie the game.

Junior John Kalis followed with a triple to right to chase home two runs, and an RBI groundout by senior Joe Carlo made it 5-2.

Kalis drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the second, and scored the Mules’ final run after leading off the fifth with a triple. Freshman Bobby Spindler’s sacrifice fly was one of three run-scoring outs by Muhlenberg in the game.

The other run came off the bat of junior Christian Conti, whose fourth-inning home run was part of another typical day of assaulting the record book. Conti drove in six runs in the doubleheader to tie the school record of 41 RBI in a season. He set a school record in the opener with his ninth triple of the campaign.

Conti figured prominently in a comeback effort that fell just short in Game 1. Held without a baserunner into the fifth inning, the Mules struck for three runs in the sixth on Conti’s two-run triple and a single by Risener. In the seventh, Conti hit a two-run single to make the score 7-6, but the game ended with the tying run on third.

Although the end result was a loss, the first game gave Muhlenberg confidence that carried into the nightcap. “We showed that we can play with not only anyone in the conference, but in the country,” said Ordog. In fact, the Mules have played three teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last and beaten all three.

“We just have to roll from here,” concluded Ordog. “If we play every game with the emotion we played with today, we’ll be all right.”
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