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Sunday, April 17, 2011

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Softball Track & field, women’s golf, men’s tennis

Baseball sweeps Bullets
on blustery senior day

Rob Shannon
Shannon is the first Mule pitcher to throw at least eight shutout innings since March 30, 2005.
Senior Joseph DiCecilia has earned the nickname “Captain America” on the Muhlenberg baseball team.

So it was only fitting that he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning of game one against Gettysburg with a chance to be the hero on senior day.

And “Captain America” delivered with a line drive over the head of the second baseman that scored pinch runner Jeremy Smith from second to give the Mules their third straight one-run win, 5-4.

Muhlenberg had a much easier time in the nightcap as sophomore Rob Shannon played the role of hero by firing eight scoreless innings to help the Mules beat the Bullets, 10-0, for their first shutout win since April 19, 2008.

The Mules’ first CC doubleheader sweep since taking two at Gettysburg last season moves them into a tie for fifth place in the conference with Washington. Muhlenberg, which at the start of the day last Thursday was in ninth place in the conference, is now just one game behind Swarthmore for the final CC playoff spot.

“It’s kind of funny when you think about it,” DiCecilia said of the Mules’ meteoric rise. “We always felt like we were a good team, but we just weren’t able to win a lot of our close games.

“But now we’re playing with a lot more confidence and it shows out there. If we can keep stringing wins together and keep up our momentum we have as good of a shot as anyone to get into the playoffs.”

The Mules (10-22-1, 7-7) jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning of the opener before the Bullets (9-20, 3-11) responded with four runs in the top of the second.

Sophomore John Muha scored on classmate Joseph Vila’s third-inning ground out to cut the deficit to one.

After back-to-back scoreless innings freshman Max Litvak reach on an error by the first baseman with one out in the sixth. He then stole second to set the stage for junior Nick Busillo.

Busillo, who delivered the walkoff three-run home run against Swarthmore on Thursday, came up big again. The pinch hitter kept his hot streak going when he lofted a pitch to gap in right center. Litvak scored easily from second to tie the game heading into the final inning.

Senior Jason Daniels got a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to keep the Bullets off the board in the top of the frame.

Then in the bottom half of the inning, senior Clint Lynch sent the first pitch he saw to right field for a single. After Lynch advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Jeff Puklin, Smith came in to pinch run.

Looking to set up a potential double play, Gettysburg intentionally walked Muha to put runners on first and second and set the stage for DiCecilia.
Joseph DiCecilia
DiCecilia, shown during his game-winning at-bat in the opener, needs just two more hits to move into the top 25 on the Mules’ all-time list.

“I wasn’t really offended they walked him; he had been hot all day,” DiCecilia said. “I was just excited to get an at-bat in that position. Whenever the game is on the line you want to be up there with a chance to help the team.

“I just put a good swing on the ball and it fell in. It felt really good to get a win like that, especially on senior day. It was an experience I will never forget.”

Daniels struck out four to earn his third win of the season and second in a row.

While the seniors stole the spotlight in the opener, the nightcap belonged to Shannon.

The left-handed pitcher retired the first 11 Gettysburg batters and with some help from Lynch, who picked off the Bullets’ first base runner, faced the minimum through the first four innings.

He also picked off a runner himself, struck out four and only surrendered four hits to pick up the first win of his career.

“My main thing was just keeping the ball down and letting them hit it,” Shannon said. “Our defense played great today and fielded just about everything that came their way. It was also nice to get a lot of run support; that really helped me get into a zone on the mound.”

While Shannon was dealing, the Mule hitters were teeing off on the Bullet pitchers. After scoring single runs in the first and fourth innings, Muhlenberg erupted in the fifth.

Puklin led off with one of his four walks in the game. After advancing to second on a balk, he scored when DiCecilia hit a sharp grounder through the hole between short and third.

After DiCecilia was caught stealing for the second out of the inning, Vila got the Mules started again with a single before junior Brian Beck walked and freshman John Scuderi reached on a infield single to load the bases.

John Scuderi
Scuderi, shown turning a double play in game one, finished with nine assists in the nightcap, one short of the school record for a shortstop.
Freshman Nick Gazzillo worked a walk that plated Vila to make it 4-0 Mules before senior Bobby Spindler dealt the crushing blow with a bases-clearing single that fell just inside the right field line that put Muhlenberg up, 7-0.

The Mules added three more runs in the sixth with the final run scoring on Scuderi’s triple to the left center gap. Senior Adam Scarzafava came on in relief and retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the shutout.

Puklin scored three times in the nightcap, while Spindler, who moved into 18th place on the school’s all-time hits list with 126 in his career, drove in four runs to help the Mules reach double figures for the second time this season and post their largest margin of victory of the year.

DiCecilia led the Mules with four hits on the day, including a double, while Muha added three and also smacked a double.

The two wins not only gave the Mules their first sweep over Gettysburg at home since 2003, they also helped send the seven seniors (pictured below with their parents), who were recognized during a ceremony between the two games, off in a memorable way.

“The seniors mean everything to me,” Shannon said. “I look up to each and every one of them. They’re all great teammates and leaders, both on and off the field; that’s what I want to be like when I’m a senior. So it was great to be able to get them two wins on senior day.”
Click here for line score.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2

Senior Day

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