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May 20, 2016

Grove City claims ECAC Southwest crown; Gallagher named Most Outstanding Player

ERIE, Pa. -- Senior pitcher Ryan Gallagher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) closed his career as a Wolverine on a high note with his first collegiate complete-game victory as the Grove City College baseball team held off Penn State Behrend for a 4-3 victory in the winner-take all game of the best-of-three series to claim the 2016 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Southwest Championship title on Friday afternoon at Behrend Field.

The title is Grove City's second ECAC crown in program history. The 2011 Wolverines also defeated Penn State Behrend to claim the 2011 ECAC DIII South title after earning a win over tournament host Neumann in the semifinals. Additionally, today's win was Grove City's 27th victory of the season, setting a new program record.

Gallagher was named Most Outstanding Player of the Championships after posting a 2-0 record on the mound with a perfect 0.00 ERA over 10 and one-third innings of work. After earning the victory in relief in Game One on Thursday, he scattered seven hits and three runs -- all unearned -- over nine innings on Friday while striking out three and walking a pair.

Grove City jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when freshman third baseman Micah Burke (Gilbert, Ariz./E.V.A.C.) hit a one-out double to right center and later came home to score on an RBI-single through the left side by junior catcher Andy Fritz (Saxonburg, Pa./Knoch).

From there, errors would prove to be the story of the game, as each of the next four runs recorded were all unearned. The Wolverines doubled their lead to 2-0 in the top of the second as senior designated hitter Travis Royer (Forest, Va./Twin Valley, Pa.) reached on an error and later came home to score during a groundout double-play. Grove City, however, would give that run back to the Lions in the bottom of the third as an error on an attempt to throw Alex Margraf out at third allowed Margraf to score to cut the Wolverine lead back to one.

After a scoreless fourth, each team was the beneficiary of an opponents' error to score one run a side as the Wolverines held onto a 3-2 lead through five. That lead would carry into the top of the ninth, when Grove City used some timely two-out at-bats to add what would prove to be a much-needed insurance run. Sophomore center fielder Tyler Graham (Vandergrift, Pa./Kiski Area) was hit by a pitch to start the run and advanced to second on a single through the left side by junior shortstop David Laylock (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pine Richland). That set up Burke for an RBI-single up the middle that scored the speedy Graham from second to increase the Grove City lead to 4-2 heading into the final frame.

After allowing a leadoff walk, Gallagher got the first out of the ninth via the strikeout and then got Margraf to fly a ball to center field, but Graham and freshman left fielder Shane Hammel (Fort Collins, Colo./Fossil Ridge) collided in left center and the ball dropped, allowing the runners to advance to second and third with just one out still on the board. Graham would redeem himself on the following play, however, by corralling a Brandon Bergstrom sacrifice fly that scored Ian Taylor for the second out of the inning, and Gallagher got John Hlavinka to groundout to Burke for the game's final out to clinch the victory.

Burke was the lone Wolverine with multiple hits on the day and also had Grove City's only extra-base hit, going 2 for 5 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Fritz also recorded a hit and an RBI while Laylock, junior first baseman Matt Waugaman (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny), Royer, junior right fielder Nolan Myers (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) and sophomore second baseman Cameron Smail (Apollo, Pa./Kiski Area) each added hits.

Along with the team wins record, Grove City players set or tied 10 single-season records during the 2016 season. Waugaman set new single-season records for games played (44), games started (44), at-bats (160), hits (65), runs batted in (54), total bases (121) and putouts while tying Marcus Magister's 2009 record of 13 home runs. Fritz established a new record with 16 doubles while Royer posted a new program-best mark by being hit by a pitch 15 times.

Waugaman also finished the season already owning Grove City's career putouts record (828) heading into his senior season while Gallagher concluded his career second in program history with 54 career appearances on the mound.

Grove City finishes the 2016 season 27-17. The Wolverines lose Gallagher, Royer and senior relief pitcher Kenny Saltsman (Salem, Ohio/Salem) to graduation.

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