HUNTINGDON, Pa. (March 20, 2016) – The USMMA baseball team lost the rubber-game of its Landmark-opening series against Juniata on Sunday, 9-8, in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth after rallying to tie the score in the top of the ninth. The Mariners fall to 3-9 (1-2 Landmark) in defeat, while the Eagles improve to 5-9 (2-1 Landmark).
Trailing 8-5 going into the final inning, Merchant Marine brought three runs across to tie up the contest. The Mariners took advantage of a fielding error to score the first run as freshman Kai Vitella (Lewes, Del.) crossed home to make it 8-6. An RBI groundout by sophomore Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) followed, which plated senior Jeff Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio), and an RBI-single by junior Matthew Thomson (Memphis, Tenn.) brought senior Grant Foley (Butler, Pa.) across to tie the game at 8-8.
Down to its last out in the bottom of the ninth, Juniata's next two batters drew walks before freshman Hunter Price won the game with an RBI-single to right center.
Lucy was 2-for-4 from the plate with two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Thomson and Vitella both supplied an RBI apiece for the Mariners.
The Eagles were led by senior Anthony Lombardo, who went 2-for-5 with six RBIs and a run scored. Lombardo hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth that gave Juniata its first lead of the game, 5-4.
Senior starter Kyle Clausen (Southold, N.Y.) tossed five innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on just three hits with five strikeouts while getting a no-decision. Freshman Kyle Cunningham (Panama City Beach, Fla.) came in for 2.2 innings of relief and allowed two runs on three hits with two Ks. Classmate John Kelly Jr. (Apex, N.C.) suffered the loss after tossing one inning and allowing a run on two hits.
The Mariners return to action this Tuesday, March 22, when they host John Jay in their home-opener at Lower Roosevelt Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.
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