Baseball Celebrates Christmas in March by Sweeping Penn State Brandywine

Saturday, March 17, 2012

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It was a day devoted to St. Patrick, not St. Nick (that comes in December). But it was three players named Nick who helped the Muhlenberg baseball team sweep its home-opening doubleheader.

 Christian Ferlan
Ferlan allowed five hits and struck out four in six innings of work to improve his record to 3-0.
Sophomore Nick Kennedy had three hits in each game, and senior Nick Busillo and freshman Nick Plinio delivered RBI singles in the decisive inning in Game 2. The Mules won the opener, 7-3, and the nightcap, 11-9, to improve to 12-4 on the season.

The 12 wins are one more than Muhlenberg had all of last year.

“It was big to come out here and take care of business, especially on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Kennedy, who is of Irish descent. “It’s a huge spirit lifter.”

The Mules had lost three of their last four after a 9-1 start, including yesterday’s 9-0 setback at Susquehanna in which an offense that had been averaging more than 10 runs per game was held to four hits.

“It’s going to happen that there are games where we don’t score a lot of runs,” said Kennedy. “We think we have a great lineup. We have to stay positive and have good at-bats. All-we try to do is get one person on, then get the next person on, and keep it going.”

That’s the way it went in the biggest inning of the first game, when Muhlenberg combined three walks, two infield errors, a bunt hit and a bloop hit to break open a scoreless game and plate four runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Freshman Christian Ferlan came back and retired the Nittany Lions (3-7) on only six pitches in the top of the fifth, aided by sophomore Brett Rosen, who threw out a runner trying to steal.

 Jimmy Cody
Cody went 3-for-5 with three runs scored in game two.
The Mules got back to bat quickly and added two more runs in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Rosen and a two-out RBI single by freshman Chris Manfredonia.

Brandywine scored twice in the sixth and one in the ninth, but freshman Austin Cush finished up for his first career save.

Muhlenberg had to feel it had the luck of the Irish going in the second game, when staff No. 1 Rob Shannon took to the mound. But despite being staked to a 5-2 lead and picking off three runners, he ran into a wee bit o’ trouble in the seventh and had to be helped by two relievers – one pitcher and one second baseman.

With the score tied at 5-5 and the bases loaded with one out, junior Tim Velys induced an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. Freshman Danny Usewick, who had just come into the game that inning, turned the important twin killing on his first chance.

The momentum carried into the Mules’ half of the seventh. Freshman Jimmy Cody led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by junior John Muha. Junior Joseph Vila jumped on the next pitch and drove a single up the middle for one of his four hits, driving in Cody with the go-ahead run. Busillo, sophomore John Scuderi and Plinio followed with RBI hits, and Muhlenberg added a fifth run on an error.

The Mules had a seemingly comfortable 11-5 lead going into the ninth, but Brandywine made things interesting by scoring four runs. Freshman Zach Hoffman came in to retire the only batter he faced, capping a great one-win, two-save day for freshman pitchers.

“For them to do that as freshmen is awesome. That’s what we really needed,” said Kennedy. “If they can pitch like they pitched today, we’re going to have a good team.”
Click here for line score.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2