Grand Finale: Baseball Ends Season with Win vs. Hopkins

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Brian Beck After hitting a game-winning grand slam in what would be the last at-bat of his career, mild-mannered Brian Beck went all wild, yelling and jumping as he high-fived teammates back to the dugout.

“It was a couple of things,” said the senior first baseman on the Muhlenberg baseball team. “I was happy to give us a lead. We haven’t won in a while. And my mom had never seen me hit a home run. I was pretty happy about that.”

The enthusiasm and emotion were understandable on all counts. The slam Mrs. Beck got to see highlighted a seven-run seventh inning that lifted the Mules past regionally ranked Johns Hopkins, 12-7 in the second game of their season-ending doubleheader. The Blue Jays (24-13-2, 13-5) won the opener, 16-8, to clinch the top seed for the Centennial Conference playoffs and extend Muhlenberg’s losing streak to 13 games.

But Beck’s grand slam, which capped a comeback from a five-run deficit, ensured that the final memory of a difficult season would be a positive one for the Mules (19-21, 3-15).

“This whole year, through all the ups and downs, we really battled,” said Beck. “I’m glad we could put it all together today.”

Nick Busillo
Busillo hit a two-run single in the opener and had two infield hits in the nightcap. He finished the year with 43 RBI, tying for the third-most in a season in program history.
Muhlenberg showed its mettle in the first game, scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth to cut a 12-2 deficit to 12-8 and force Hopkins to bring in its closer. The Mules eventually got the tying run to the plate, but the Blue Jays put the game away with four runs in the top of the ninth.

Freshman Jimmy Cody went 3-for-5 with a two-run triple in the opener and also saved two runs with a sensational diving catch in centerfield.

Jimmy Aramanda
Aramanda is the first Mule since 2008 to hit two triples in a game. They were among eight extra-base hits on the day for the Mules, who set a school record with 108 extra-base hits for the season.
Muhlenberg faced a 6-1 hole heading into the bottom of the sixth of Game 2 before beginning its comeback. The first five batters of the inning got hits, bringing in three runs, and freshman Chris Manfredonia brought the Mules to within one by lining a double to right to bring in a run. The hit also extended his school-record hitting streak to 24 games.

Johns Hopkins pushed its lead to 7-5 in the top of the seventh with an inside-the-park home run – one of several unusual plays in the long doubleheader, which also featured a runner getting hit by a batted ball and a batter who hit an apparent double called out on appeal for failing to touch first base.

For personal oddities, though, little could match junior Jimmy Aramanda hitting two triples in one inning. The far-from-fleet catcher led off the bottom of the seventh with his first career three-bagger and scored on a single by freshman Kurt Johnson to make it 7-6.

Two outs later, with the bases loaded, senior Nick Busillo had a terrific last career at-bat that ended with a walk on a 3-2 pitch, bringing in the tying run. Beck, the next batter, hit a towering shot over the fence in right field for his first grand slam since high school.

Aramanda drove in the final run of the big inning with his second triple and finished the game 4-for-5. Junior John Muha and sophomore John Scuderi each had three hits, including a triple, while Johnson and freshman David Anderson contributed to the 20-hit attack with a pair of hits apiece.

But the day belonged to the seniors – Beck, Busillo and relief pitcher Mike Speroni.

“It feels great to end with a win, especially for the seniors,” said Aramanda. “All three of them had a positive influence on us, and we’re going to miss them next year.”
Click here for line scores.
Click for complete stats: Game 1 | Game 2