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April 25, 2015

Swatsworth, McCracken lead Grove City to split at Behrend

ERIE, Pa. -- Senior first baseman Reese Swatsworth (Hermitage, Pa./Hickory) and junior left fielder Kenny McCracken (Wheaton, Ill./Aurora Christian) had strong offensive showings as the Grove City College baseball team overcame a 5-2 loss in Game One to earn a 9-5 nightcap victory and a doubleheader split with Penn State Behrend on Saturday afternoon at the Behrend Diamond.

Swatsworth went 4 for 7 on the day to lead the Wolverines (12-20 overall) while McCracken was 3 for 4 in the Game Two win with a triple and two RBI.

Grove City struggled offensively throughout much of the opening game, managing just three hits over the first six innings. The Lions (21-9), meanwhile, scored twice in the third inning and three times in the fourth to jump out to a 5-0 lead. The Wolverines wouldn't give up without a fight, making a late surge in the top of the seventh.

Freshman utility Drew Landis (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) reached and advanced to second on an error to lead off the inning, and a Swatsworth single would give the Wolverines runners on the corners. Sophomore catcher Andy Fritz (Saxonburg, Pa./Knoch) extended his hit streak with a single to right field that scored Landis and moved Swatsworth to second. After a flyout, sophomore right fielder Nolan Myers (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) drew a walk to load the bases, and a single through the right side by sophomore Brandon Gresh (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) would score Swatsworth and keep the bases loaded.

It looked as if Grove City might be able to keep the rally alive as freshman left fielder Ryan Vero (Butler, Pa./Butler), stepping to the plate in a pinch hitting role, made drilled a ball toward the left side, but Behrend shortstop Bergstrom made a great snag and was able to double Gresh off of first to end the game.

Sophomore Ben Finlan (State College, Pa./State College) went the distance on the mound for the Wolverines, allowing six hits and five runs (two earned) over six innings while striking out three.

In the nightcap, it was Grove City who jumped out to the early lead, scoring six runs in the top of the third to take a 6-0 lead. Freshman center fielder Tyler Graham (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) led off the inning with a single up the middle and sophomore shortstop David Laylock (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pine-Richland) would reach on a Behrend fielding error to move Graham to second. Landis followed with an RBI-single through the left side that scored Graham, and Laylock and Landis were able to advance to third and second on the throw home. After a Vero popup, Swatsworth would single through the right side to score Laylock and move Landis to third, and a Swatsworth stolen base would allow Landis to advance home and score on the throwdown, making it a 3-0 game.

A Fritz groundout would move Swatsworth to third, and junior designated hitter Travis Royer (Elverson, Pa./Twin Valley) was hit by a pitch to give Grove City runners on the corners. That set up McCracken to drill a two-out, two run triple to the right field fence to make it a 5-0 game, and a single by freshman second baseman Cameron Smail (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) followed with a single up the middle to score McCracken and give the Wolverines a 6-0 lead.

The Lions would get one run back in the bottom of the third and then score four more in the bottom of the fifth to close within 6-5, but Grove City would answer with three runs in the top of the sixth.

Graham once again led off the inning with a single up the middle and moved to second on a Laylock sacrifice bunt. Landis reached on an error that allowed Graham to move to third and Graham then came home on a Vero RBI-groundout. A Swatsworth single gave Grove City runners on the corners, and once again the double-steal attempt would allow Landis to score as a throwing error on the Behrend catcher allowed Swatsworth to reach second safely. Fritz would then single to left field to score Swatsworth and close the scorign at 9-5.

Sophomore Anthony Marnejon (Columbiana, Pa./Crestview) earned the win on the mound, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out one. Junior Ryan Gallagher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) threw two thirds of an inning in relief while sophomore Jimmy Palmer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) allowed just one hit over two and one third innings of scoreless relief to earn his fifth save of the season.

Fritz, who is now batting .475 on the season, extended his hitting streak to 19 games while Myers' streak grew to 14 games.

The Wolverines return to Presidents' Athletic Conference action on Wednesday when they host Saint Vincent in a single nine-inning game at 4 p.m.

Game 1 Box Score   Game 2 Box Score

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