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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Softball Tennis, lacrosse

baseball scores 5 in 8th for comeback win

As John Muha’s ground ball up the middle headed to the infield dirt and the Ursinus shortstop moved to his left, the game hung in the balance. If the ball got through, the game would be tied, but if the shortstop got to it, the Muhlenberg rally would be over.

So what happened? None of the above. The ball hit off the umpire’s foot, popped up into the air and landed in center field.

“The umpire told me he’s been umping for 15 years and that never happened to him before,” said Muha.

He probably hasn’t seen many comebacks like the
Max Litvak
Litvak's two-out, game-tying single raised his team-leading batting average to .340.
one he witnessed either. Down six runs before it ever came to bat, the Muhlenberg baseball team scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat Ursinus, 9-8, for its second straight win.

The Bears scored six runs and knocked the Mule starter out in the top of the first. “Chip away” was a popular phrase in the dugout after the half-inning, and Muhlenberg did just that, scoring once in the first, twice in the fourth and once in the fifth.

The chipping was effective because of good work by the Mule bullpen, which allowed only one earned run and four hits while striking out 13 over the final eight innings.

Junior Mike Speroni took over in the first and worked into the sixth, when he was relieved by sophomore Tim Velys. The southpaw had a great outing, striking out five of the first six batters he faced, then working out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam after giving up an unearned run in the eighth.

“My entire mindset was just to keep it as close as I could and give the team a chance to put some runs on the board and make a run, like we did,” said Velys, who finished with six strikeouts in his three-inning stint.

Muhlenberg trailed 8-4 when freshman John Scuderi led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to right. Junior Jesse Nusbaum followed with his second double of the game to deep right-center. Senior Jeff Puklin then dunked a ball into right field, bringing home Scuderi with the first run of the inning.

A bobbled ground ball at shortstop plated another run, and after a sacrifice, senior Joseph DiCecilia hit a deep sacrifice fly to center, scoring Puklin to make it 8-7 and putting the tying run on third with two outs.

That brought up Muha, whose ground ball took the unusual bounce off the umpire’s foot. He was awarded first base, with the runner at third remaining there.

Freshman Max Litvak singled up the middle, his ball untouched by the pitcher, umpire and shortstop, to drive in the tying run. After a pitching change, sophomore Joseph Vila walked to load the bases, and Scuderi, who started the rally, walked on a 3-1 pitch to score Muha with the go-ahead run.

That left the game in the hands of the Mules’ new closer, senior Jason Daniels. For the second game in a row, the team’s top starter came in from the pen to nail down a win, and this time he did it in style, striking out all three batters he faced.

Following Saturday’s last-inning win in the second game of the Washington doubleheader, the dramatic victory over Ursinus gave the Mules (5-16-1) back-to-back wins for the first time since the first day of the season. And it gave them a 2-1 record in the Centennial Conference.

“We’re trying to build momentum,” said Muha. “It was pretty rough for us in Florida, but we figured it was a fresh start for us in conference play. We’re going to take our 2-1 record into Friday’s game [at Ursinus] and Saturday’s doubleheader [vs. McDaniel] and try to keep it going.”
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