Washington, DC – Rob Solano (Stroudsburg, PA) pitched a complete game for Moravian as the Greyhounds defeated Merchant Marine, 9-4, Saturday afternoon in the Landmark Conference Tournament opener for both teams. Joseph Connell (Bethlehem, PA) went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI for the third-seed. Nicholas Nalette (Goffstown, NH) registered three hits and one RBI for the Mariners in the loss. The Greyhounds also established a new school record in the game with nine stolen bases.
Merchant Marine (19-15) manufactured a run in the bottom of the first inning as Andrew MacKinnon (Buffalo, NY) got the Mariners' first hit with a drag bunt up the first base line. Warren Hartmann (Wyckoff, NJ), the Landmark Conference's leading hitter, doubled down the left field line to put runners at second and third with one out. Danny Collins (Sleepy Hollow, NY) lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate MacKinnon, adding to his league leading RBI total and putting USMMA on top, 1-0.
Moravian (22-17) nearly answered in the top of the second after two infield singles from Ryan Luke (Stewartsville, NJ) and Mike Roethke (Flemington, NJ) along with a stolen base put runners at the corners with two outs. Alex Bull (Fair Haven, NJ) ripped a ball back up the box but USMMA pitcher Cameron Stadele (Alpharetta, GA) snagged the line drive to end the inning.
The Greyhounds got another infield single to start the top of the third, this time off the bat of Jimmy McCarthy (Bethlehem, PA). McCarthy would steal second and third to put himself 90 feet away from scoring with no outs. A passed ball would allow the run to scamper home and level the game at 1-1.
Moravian then got back-to-back singles from Matt Hanson (Doylestown, PA) and Charles Savite (Hackettstown, NJ). However, Savite's single was mishandled in the outfield, allowing Hanson to score and push Moravian in front, 2-1. Connell and Luke both deposited RBI doubles into the left-center field gap as the third-seed extended its cushion to 4-1.
The two teams traded zeros on the scoreboard until the Greyhounds broke through again in the top of the seventh. Hanson started the frame by reaching on an error and then stole his way into scoring position. Connell doubled down the left field line to push across the unearned run and make it a 5-1 affair.
The Greyhounds widened the gap in the eighth with three runs against the Mariner bullpen. Savite lifted a sacrifice fly to right field while Connell added two RBI to his stat line with a double into left field.
The Mariners attempted a comeback starting in the bottom of the eighth as Collins drew a leadoff walk and went to third on a Stadele single. Jake Martin (San Diego, CA) singled up the middle to cut the deficit to 8-2 before Nicholas Kopacka (Saugus, CA) advanced the runners with a bunt. Nalette posted his third hit of the day, an infield single that made it 8-3. Nicholas Dimas (Keller, TX) provided a RBI groundout that inched USMMA closer at 8-4.
Moravian put up an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a Roethke solo homerun, his first long ball of the year. Solano would set down the Mariners down in order in the ninth to secure the 9-4 victory.
#3 Moravian will take on #4 Scranton tomorrow at 12:30 pm with a spot in the Landmark Conference Championship on the line. #2 Merchant Marine will square-off with #1 Catholic tomorrow at 9:00 am in an elimination game. The winner of that game will face the loser of the Greyhounds and Royals contest for the second spot in the championship round.