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March 7, 2007

Grove City wins 4 of 5 in Florida

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Grove City College baseball team opened the 2007 season by going 4-1 during a five-game trip at the Charlotte Sports Park March 1-3. Grove City opened the trip Thursday March 1 by splitting a doubleheader with 16th-ranked Augustana (Ill.). Grove City handed the Vikings their first loss of 2007 in the opener, 6-4, but Augustana rebounded for a 5-2 win in the nightcap.

Grove City then rattled off three straight wins to close the trip. Friday, the Wolverines swept St. John's (Minn.), 9-6 and 5-3. Grove City then closed the weekend by slipping past Concordia-Moorhead in 10 innings, 11-9, Saturday afternoon.

Against Augustana March 1, Grove City stormed out to a 6-1 lead and withstood the Vikings' three-run rally in the top of the seventh. Junior pitcher Chris Bowser (Stow, Ohio/Stow) worked four innings to earn the victory. Bowser allowed just one run and two hits.

Junior center fielder Brian Moran (Columbia, Md./Chapelgate) tripled and singled in the win while junior catcher Ray Mertz (Glenshaw, Pa./Shaler) doubled in a pair of runs. Junior DH Pat Messner (McDonald, Pa./West Allegheny) and sophomore shortstop Ben Wilson (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) both singled twice.

Grove City grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the nightcap but Augustana held the Wolverines to just one hit over the final six innings. Mertz singled home both runs while sophomore third baseman Cody Koontz (Moundsville, Va./John Marshall) tripled. Freshman pitcher Jeff Baluch (Perryopolis, Pa./Geibel) allowed one earned run in four innings. Sophomore reliever Matt Tindall (Copley, Ohio/Copley) took the defeat, allowing three earned runs in two innings.

Friday, Mertz and Wilson each drove in three runs as Grove City pulled out a 9-6 Game One win against St. John's. Mertz doubled as part of a 3-for-4 outing while Koontz also doubled. Senior right fielder Chris Schwamberger (Mansfield, Ohio/Madison) tripled while Wilson and sophomore left fielder Seth Thompson (Canton, Ohio/GlenOak) both went 2-for-3. Moran also singled twice.

Sophomore left-hander Zach Hillegas (Bridgeport, W. Va./Bridgeport) earned the win on the mound. Hillegas struck out 10 batters in five innings while walking just one. Hillegas did allow five hits and five earned runs. Senior closer Justin Miller (Harrisburg, Pa./Susquehanna Township) fired two scoreless innings to earn the save.

Freshman pitcher Michael Herringshaw (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) pitched into the seventh inning of the Wolverines' 5-3 nightcap victory and earned his first collegiate win. Herringshaw allowed just two earned runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Miller recorded the final two outs for his second save of the day.

Moran and freshman catcher Mark Warner (Pittsburg, N.Y./Pittsford-Mendon) both collected a pair of hits while Wilson doubled.

Saturday, Grove City concluded the trip by rallying for an extra-inning win over Concordia-Moorhead. Grove City trailed 6-2 entering the seventh but sent 10 batters to the plate as part of a six-run outburst. Wilson doubled and scored on a Koontz single, starting the rally. Grove City took the lead later in the inning on a Moran grand slam.

Concordia-Moorhead cut Grove City's lead to 9-8 in the eighth, then tied the game in the ninth. However, junior second baseman Bryan Pierrot (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) belted a two-run double in the top of the 10th that scored Schwamberger and sophomore first baseman Brad Stombaugh (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon). Pierrot finished the day 3-for-6 while Moran, Schwamberger and Stombaugh all had a pair of hits.

Miller earned the victory with two innings of relief. Freshman Aaron Cosma (Lisbon, Ohio/Lisbon) started and allowed three unearned runs in one inning. Tindall pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief, permitting two earned runs. Freshman lefty Tim Pliska (Irwin, Pa./Norwin) and senior Eric Hull (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) each pitched an inning of scoreless relief.

Mertz hit .500 (6 of 12) during the week, including a team-leading seven runs batted in. Moran batted .471 (8 for 17) with six runs scored. As a team, the Wolverines hit .345 in Port Charlotte.

Grove City will visit Pitt-Greensburg Friday, March 16 at 1 p.m. in a non-conference doubleheader.

Augustana Game One Box Score                    Augustana Game Two Box Score

St. John's Game One Box Score                     St. John's Game Two Box Score

Concordia-Moorhead Box Score

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