STEVENSON, Md. – The Stevenson baseball team got two home runs, three RBIs, and five runs scored by senior Billy Small, but lost an 11-8 lead in the ninth before succumbing to conference opponent Lebanon Valley by a score of 16-11 in eleven innings at Sugar Field on Friday afternoon.
Stevenson (12-12, 4-6 MAC Commonwealth) also got a 3-4 day from junior Matthew Kerber who added two runs scored and a run batted in. Sophomore Mark Terrell was 1-5 with a home run and also had a stolen base. Senior backstop Jake Dimon chipped in three RBIs and also had a base hit. Classmate John D'Aquanno was 2-6 with a run scored, while sophomore Kevin Murray Jr. had a knock as well.
Lebanon Valley wasted no time getting on the board against Stevenson junior James Wiercinski as they struck two times in the top of the first. Trevor Bertsch led off the game for the Dutchmen and hit what sounded off the bat to be a casual fly ball, but kept carrying out to left-center and eventually went over the fence for the early 1-0 lead. Wiercinski regained his composure to get Bryan Towers to fly out to right and Marty Kiessling to swing at strike three. Unfortunately, for the home team, the next batter was Josh Marcelli who blasted one over the batter's eye in straightaway center making it 2-0. TJ Holdredge went down on strikes to end the inning. Visiting starter Jake Williams continued the strong opening frame for Lebanon Valley as he struck out the Mustangs in order.
With the score still 2-0 heading to the last of the second Small began things by drawing a free pass from Williams. After Kerber and Dimon were retired for the first two outs Terrell stepped up to the dish. During his at-bat, Williams uncorked two consecutive wild pitches to move the runner to third. Terrell would then not only drive home Small but himself as well as he belted a two-run homer to deep left knotting the score 2-2. Sophomore Alex Kidwiler was fanned on strike three to end the rally. In the top of the third, the Dutchmen were able to get a runner to second with two down but did amount to anything as Wiercinski got Kiessling to line out to right-center keeping it at 2-2.
The Mustangs went to work in their half of the third looking to break the deadlock. Junior Anthony Millington led off with a fly out to Jon Harned in right and Murray grounded out to second for the first two outs of the inning. Stevenson then embarked on a two-out rally. Sophomore Brady Kessler reached base safely on a walk and then D'Aquanno singled through the left side to put two on. Small was next up and he popped one up on the infield that got caught up in the wind and dropped just behind the mound. Kessler racing around the bases hard with two gone scored and D'Aquanno chugged it to second making it second and third with two away. Kerber was issued a walk to load the bags for Dimon. He knocked one down the right-field line plating two. The ensuing batter Terrell bounced one off the glove of Holdredge at third allowing Kerber to scamper home. After a wild pitch put men at second and third Williams induced a groundout from Kidwiler to end the threat at 6-2.
Stevenson kept that advantage all the way to the bottom of the fifth when they would add a pair against reliever Daymond Zweizig. With a man, a second and no one out Kerber singled out to right scoring Small. That sent Dimon to the dish during his at-bat Kerber stole second and advance 90-feet on a throwing error by the catcher. Dimon then sent a fly ball out to center-field that plated Kerber. Terrell grounded out and Millington flew out to left retiring the side. When the visitors came to hit in the top of inning number six they were staring down an 8-2 deficit. After Marcelli singled to begin the frame Wiercinski got strikeouts of Holdredge and Albright to have one on and two away. Nick O'Shea reached on a walk and Josh Herring was granted first on catcher's interference to load the bases with Dutchmen. Jon Harned was next up and he cleared the bags with double to right-center that rolled all the way to the fence. That was the end of the afternoon for Wiercinski as sophomore CJ Kilpatrick was summoned from the bullpen to face Bertsch who he got to pop-up to Millington at second to stall the rally at 8-5. The Mustangs answered right back in the last of the sixth when with two-out once again and a runner at second Small belted a two-run shot over the right-field wall to extend the margin to 10-5. Terrell hit one hard but right at Herring in center to retire the side.
Lebanon Valley responded the next frame with a one-out two-run double to right center off the bat of Holdredge against Kilpatrick. Albright then grounded out to short for the second out before senior Eric Prachniak got a looking strikeout from O'Shea for out three leaving the score at 10-7. Dutchmen reliever Logan Stover hurled a one-two-three shutdown in the bottom of the seventh. In the eighth, with runners at first and second with two away sophomore, Tyler Graham was called in from the pen to face Kiessling who he walked to load the bases. That brought in junior Mike Elia to try and get out of a tight spot against Marcelli who he walked allowing Harned to score before causing a fly out from Holdredge making it 10-8 going to the bottom of the eighth. The Mustangs added one in their half on the second home run of the day for Small except this one was of the inside-the-park variety to deep center-field.
In the ninth Elia got Albright watching strike three for the first out before the next batter O'Shea drove one out the park to straightaway center trimming it to 11-9. Herring and Harned both singled to put two on with still just one gone. Bertsch flew out to Murray for out two. Then after both runners stole a base with Towers at the plate he bounced one through the left side to score one and put them at the corners. That brought freshman reliever Phil Wugalter into square off with Kiessling, unfortunately, he unleashed a wild pitch to let the tying run into score. Kiessling then went down swinging to move things to the last of the ninth. Kiessling took to the mound and set the Mustangs away in order to send the game to extras.
The Dutchmen did not get much of a threat going in their half of the tenth against senior pitcher Kenny Armiger. In the bottom of the frame Stevenson had the bases loaded and just one out, but freshman pinch-hitter Phil Dao and Dimon were retired to end the threat. Lebanon Valley broke through in the ensuing inning thanks to some defensive miscues. As the first two hitters of the inning Herring and Harned both reach successfully on errors. Then with Bertsch at the dish, a pickoff attempt at third from catcher Dimon caught D'Aquanno by surprise allowing one to score. Later with the bases, full Kiessling cleared the bases with a jack to left opening it up to 16-11. Freshman Michael Smell got the next three he faced to retire the side. Terrell opened things for the Mustangs with a walk. Pinch-hitter freshman Sam Ferreira went down swinging before Millington reached on an error by the second baseman putting two on and one out. However, no damage would occur as Murray and Kessler went down to end the game.
Stevenson starter Wiercinski took a no-decision lasting 5.2 giving up six hits, five runs (two earned), and struck out two. Elia suffered the blown save in one inning letting in three runs on four hits. Armiger (0-1) took the loss going one frame allowing the game-winning run on just one hit.
The Mustangs will be right back at it tomorrow Saturday, April, 7 when they wrap up the three-game set versus Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. First pitch of game one against the Dutchmen is set for 12pm.