Baseball Earns Patriot League Tournament Berth with Sunday Split
April 29, 2012
EASTON, Pa. - A three-run home run by Brad Hopek set the tone and Toby Schwartz' first collegiate win sealed the deal as the Lafayette baseball team qualified for the 2012 Patriot League Tournament with a 6-2 win over Bucknell on Sunday afternoon at Kamine Stadium. The Bison nabbed the series finale, 10-4.
Lafayette, which will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament, finishes the Patriot League regular season at 7-13. Bucknell also lands at 7-13, with Lafayette owning the tiebreaker by virtue of this weekend's trio of victories over the Bison. The Leopards (14-32-1 overall) will play a best-of-three semifinal series at No. 1-seeded Army on May 12-13.
The Leopards will be making their seventh trip to the Patriot League Tournament - all under 13-year head coach Joe Kinney. Lafayette, which won the league crown in 2007, last made back-to-back trips to the postseason in 2006 and 2007 campaigns.
Offensively, Brian Davila had a hit in each game to extend his hitting streak to five games. Hopek's third home run of the season was one of two hits for the first baseman in the twin bill. Thomas Dunleavy and Parker Hills each added their first triple of the season, and Scott Kelleher ripped a two-run double. Singles from Bobby Fargnoli, Andrew Santomauro, Tim Lazor, James McCool and the first career hit on the first career plate appearance by senior Jeff Snell capped the Lafayette attack.
Hopek and Hills each drove in three runs on the day. Kelleher had two RBI, and Davila and McCool each knocked in one.
Schwartz (1-3) scattered two earned runs on six hits and three walks in 5.1 innings of work. The rookie southpaw struck out four batters en route to the clinching win. Senior right-hander Chris Boyce recorded the final five outs without ceding a hit or walk.
After Schwartz stranded the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, Hopek's three-run shot in the bottom of the frame came with two outs following a Dunleavy walk and a single by Lazor. The Leopards added to their advantage in the third inning with another three-run outburst. Dunleavy was the catalyst once again with a triple to lead-off the inning. Fargnoli then worked a walk and, after two quick outs, McCool singled to plate Dunleavy and keep the inning alive. Kelleher capped the rally with a two-run double down the left field line to extend the lead to 6-0.
The Bison got on the board in the fourth inning and added another run in the sixth. But Boyce came on to retire all five batters he faced to send Lafayette into the postseason with a 6-2 win.
Ryan Ebner, the 2011 Patriot League Pitcher of the Year, took the loss for the Bison. Ebner (3-6) went the distance, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. The 6-7 southpaw struck out six batters.
Bucknell jumped out to an early lead in the nightcap with an unearned run in the second inning and four runs in the top of the third frame.
Lafayette cut into the 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the fifth stanza. Lazor reached on an error to lead-off the inning and another error put runners on first and second. With two outs in the inning, Hills delivered a two-run triple - Lafayette's first hit of the game - and Davila followed with a single to shrink the margin to 5-3.
The Bison added the next four runs, however, before Hills' sacrifice fly scored Hopek to finish off Lafayette's offense for the day. Bucknell would add a run in the top of the ninth to salvage a split of the twin bill with a 10-4 win.
Snell and Bucknell reliever Jack Boehm - former teammates and classmates at New Trier High School in Wilmette, Ill. - each recorded their first career hit off of each other in the ninth inning.
Russell Seidell earned the win for the Bison with six innings of two-hit ball. Seidell (2-4) did not allow an earned run. Boehm tossed the last three frames for his first save of the spring.
The Leopards will wrap-up the regular season next week, starting with a Wednesday outing at Rider. Lafayette plays a double-dip at Marist on Saturday before hosting the Red Foxes for a single game on Sunday, May 6 for Senior Day at Kamine Stadium beginning at 1 p.m.