Defending champion PSC eliminates Skipjacks
Chesapeake falls, 6-4, after defeating Hagerstown in opener
KEYSER, W. Va. Chesapeake College’s bounce-back baseball season included Saturday’s impressive, 9-4 victory over Hagerstown Community College in the first game of the NJCAA Division I Region XX tournament. Unfortunately for the fifth-seeded Skipjacks, their season ended a few hours later with a 6-4 loss to fourth-seeded Potomac State College of West Virginia University.
Host Potomac State moved on to this weekend’s double-elimination regional Final Four as the survivor of Saturday’s three-team, single-elimination play-in. The Skipjacks (27-18) had hoped to make use of the home-field advantage in the regional Final Four, which will be held at Chesapeake College.
"Obviously I’m happy we had a winning record," said Chesapeake head coach Frank Szymanski, whose team rebounded from a 2011 season in which the program posted its first losing record since 2002. "It’s a big improvement over last year. I’m just disappointed we weren’t able to make it further in the tournament."
Szymanski credited the defending Region XX champion Catamounts (22-23) with "making every play against us."
"We hit the ball extremely well and they played unbelievable defense," said Szymanski. "They made a couple of great diving plays, a couple of double plays, and caught some great hits. We left a lot of runners on base, but that’s because they made so many really nice defensive plays."
Chesapeake started quickly against Hagerstown, racing to 6-0 and 8-1 leads.
Casey Joseph (2-for-5, four RBI) had a run-scoring hit during a two-run second inning and tripled in two runs as part of a four-run third. The Hawks scored a run in the top of the fifth, but Ryan McCulley (2-for-3) had an RBI single as part of a two-run home fifth that made it 8-1.
Kevin Loftis went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and Joel Rowe was 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI for the Skipjacks.
Ryan Nichols went 8 2/3 innings to earn the win, allowing all four runs on 10 hits with three walks and six strikeouts, while Spencer Gillis struck out the only batter he faced to end the game.
"We got a great pitched game from Ryan Nichols and were able to capitalize on some early scoring opportunities, which set the tone for the game," Szymanski said of the Hagerstown contest.
In the second game of the play-in, Potomac State used a five-run fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie.
Ryan Conner (2-for-4, run, RBI) hit a one-out solo homer to put the Catamounts ahead to stay. T.J. Weisenburg had a run-scoring single, Ryan Larose lifted an RBI sacrifice fly, and winning pitcher Joel Rosencrance cranked a two-run double to highlight the fifth-inning explosion.
Rosencrance allowed three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Nik Nowottnick took the loss, giving up six runs on 10 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
Stephen Meile led Potomac State at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Joseph (two runs) and Matt Schotanus (RBI) each had two hits for Chesapeake.
The Skipjacks finished with a winning (14-12-1) conference record last season, but were 21-26-1 overall in 2011. Szymanski had no problem pinpointing improvements that led to this year’s turnaround.
"We had better pitching and defense and more timely hitting this year," observed Szymanski, who said his team’s earned-run average, batting average, and fielding percentage all improved this season.
"We were also able to execute a little better and able to finish some teams off," added Szymanski, who noted squandered leads were a problem in 2011.
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