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May 2, 2015

Stephens, Swatsworth lead Grove City to Senior Day split

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Senior pitcher Mason Stephens (Uniontown, Ohio/Lake) threw a game one gem and fellow senior Reese Swatsworth (Hermitage, Pa./Hickory) went 3-5 on the day, including 2-2 with three RBI in the opener, as the Grove City College baseball team defeated Bethany 6-1 in the opener and fell 8-3 in the nightcap for a doubleheader split on Senior Day in Presidents' Athletic Conference action at R. Jack Behringer Field Saturday afternoon.

Sophomore catcher Andy Fritz (Saxonburg, Pa./Knoch) also recorded three hits on the day while sophomore shortstop David Laylock (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pine-Richland), sophomore right fielder Nolan Myers (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) and freshman center fielder Tyler Graham (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) each recorded two hits.

In the opener, it was Bethany (10-26, 5-19 PAC) who actually scored first, as an error in the top of the second allowed Ryan Bisi to reach and he later scored on a single by Chris Koegel to give the Bison a 1-0 lead.

Bethany would maintain that lead into the bottom of the fourth, when Grove City would finally get its bats going. Laylock led off the inning with an infield single and, after a flyout, sophomore first baseman Matt Waugaman (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) singled through the right side to move Laylock all the way to third. Swatsworth then followed with a double to left center that sent both men home to give Grove City a 2-1 lead.

The Bison would make a pitching change, but it wouldn't matter for the Wolverines, as Fritz followed with an infield single that moved Swatsworth to third, and the Bison overthrew first base on the play, allowing Fritz to advance to second and Swatsworth to score. Myers would later hit a two out single to right center to score Fritz and push the Wolverine advantage to 4-1.

Grove City would add two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Freshman left fielder Drew Landis (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) opened the inning with a single through the right side and, following a Waugaman walk, Swatsworth would drive Landis home with an RBI-single up the middle. Fritz would then draw a walk to load the bases, and Myers would bring Waugaman home with a sacrifice fly to deep right field, closing the scoring at 6-1.

Stephens had an excellent final outing in a Grove City uniform, throwing a complete game and allowing just four hits and a single unearned run while striking out six over seven innings of work.

The Bison would once again score first in game two, taking advantage of a pair of walks to plate a pair of runs in the top of the third inning. Grove City would cut the lead in half in the bottom of the inning, as senior second baseman Josh Hodges (Johnson City, N.Y./Johnson City), Graham and Laylock hit consecutive one-out singles to load the bases and Hodges came home on a Landis fielder's choice. Bethany would answer back, making the most of a Grove City error and two more walks to score two more runs to take a 4-1 lead.

Back-to-back doubles by Fritz and sophomore third baseman Brandon Gresh (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) would allow Grove City to close the gap to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth. Bethany would add another run in the top of the sixth, but Swatsworth would single and come home to score on a Fritz double to left field in the bottom half of the inning to keep the game close at 5-3.

The Wolverines just wouldn't have enough in this one, however, as Bethany used two batters hit by pitches and a pair of Grove City errors to score three more runs in the top of the seventh and put the game out of reach.

Sophomore Anthony Marnejon (Columbiana, Ohio/Crestview) took the loss on the mound for Grove City, allowing three earned runs on three hits through three and one-third innings. Junior Ryan Gallagher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) finished the fourth inning and threw the fifth and sixth in relief while sophomore Jimmy Palmer (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) threw the seventh.

Fritz and Myers would each record hits in both games to extend their respective hitting streaks to 23 and 18 games to close the season. Fritz also finished the season hitting .473 - the second best single-season mark in program history.

Grove City finishes the 2015 season 14-22 overall and 9-15 in PAC play. The Wolverines will lose senior pitcher Chris Curran (Lyndhurst, Ohio/Brush), Hodges, Stephens and Swatsworth to graduation.

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