Baseball Sweeps Juniata In Landmark-Opening Series

Baseball Sweeps Juniata In Landmark-Opening Series

FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 14, 2015) – The USMMA baseball team opened Landmark Conference action with a three-game series sweep over Juniata College over the past two days in the Mariners' last bit of action down at the 2015 Gene Cusic Classic in sunny Florida. Merchant Marine's record improves to 4-3 overall (3-0 Landmark), while the Eagles fall to 4-4 (0-3 Landmark).

Game one saw the Mariners fall behind 2-0 after the first half-inning, but come back to within one in the bottom of the first when freshman Jacob Sithong (Orlando, Fla.) scored on a wild pitch. USMMA tied it up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third when Sithong scored again, this time on an RBI-double to right by junior Quinn Fleming (Ashburn, Va.).

The next inning saw Juniata go back ahead in the top half with one run, but Merchant Marine responded in the bottom half with three to take its first lead of the game. Freshman Steve Lucy (Leawood, Kan.) had an RBI single that scored sophomore Francis Grzymkowski (Stafford, Va.). Lucy then stole second and advanced to third on an infield single by senior Jake Wood (Richmond, Va.). With junior Grant Foley (Butler, Pa.) at the plate, Lucy took off for home and swiped a run that put the Mariners ahead 4-3. Wood would go on to steal second after a strikeout and came around to score on a single to center by Sithong.

The Eagles put up three on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth to regain the advantage, 6-5, however the lead didn't last long, as USMMA tacked on three more runs in the bottom half of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Zach De St. Germain (Eagle, Ind.), a single by Lucy and a single by Wood, that closed out the scoring in the game.

Sithong, the Mariners' leadoff hitter, was 3-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases, while Lucy went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs and two steals.

Junior Kyle Clausen (Southold, N.Y.) earned the victory for the Mariners after hurling six innings of work, allowing six runs on eight hits and striking out eight batters. Classmate Brad Suciu (Zanesville, Ohio) picked up the save, pitching the final two innings of no-run and no-hit ball while striking out two.

In the second game on Friday, Merchant Marine rallied from being down 6-0 after the first inning and a half to come back and win. The Mariners scored three in the bottom of the second on an RBI-groundout by Lucy, an RBI-double by Sithong and bases-loaded walk drawn by freshman Michael Barnes (Alexandria, Va.).

USMMA's breakthrough came in the sixth inning, when the Mariners scored six runs to take a 9-6 lead. Foley plated Lucy with a shot to short that the Juniata shortstop had trouble with. During the next at bat, Grzymkowski came home from third on a wild pitch that saw Foley move to second. Back-to-back infield singles by Sithong and Fleming loaded the bases for Barnes, who smacked a double to right the scored Foley and Sithong and gave Merchant Marine a 7-6 lead. Freshman Bryson Campbell (Cool, Calif.) followed with a two-RBI single to left the plated Fleming and Barnes and added insurance for the Mariners.

Barnes finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored. De St. Germain was 1-for-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored.

On the mound, senior John Kret (Chappaqua, N.Y.) got the "W" with six innings of work where he gave up six runs on six hits. Classmate Reed Buck (Lawrenceville, Ga.) earned the save with a 1-2-3 seventh that began with a strikeout and ended with two-straight fly-outs to left.

Saturday's game provided even more dramatics, as the Mariners won in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs thanks in large part to three fielding errors by the Eagles. Trailing 9-8 going into the final frame, Lucy led off by reaching on an error by Juniata's second baseman. He made it to second on a groundout by freshman Alex Gambino (Haddonfield, N.J.). Foley flied out for the second out of the inning and the Mariners were down to their last out.

Sithong drew a walk to put runners on first and second before De St. Germain reached on an error by the shortstop that scored Lucy and put Sithong on third. Sithong came across with the winning run due to a costly error by the Eagles' pitcher.

The Mariners led the game 3-0 after three innings of play, 4-2 after four and 5-3 after five, but Juniata had a six-run top of the seventh to go ahead 9-5. USMMA responded right after the seventh-inning stretch with four runs thanks to a pair of two-RBI singles by Grzymkowski and Foley that tied the score at 9-9. The Eagles took the lead back, however, in the top of the eighth and seemed primed to win before the defensive woes cost them the game in the bottom of the ninth.

Campbell was 3-for-5 in the game with one RBI and two runs scored. Grzymkowski went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run and Foley went 1-for-5 with three runs batted in. Lucy scored three times in the contest, while Sithong, Barnes and Campbell all scored twice. 

On the hill, Buck earned the win, the first of his career after pitching a hitless and scoreless top of the ninth. Sophomore Patrick Morgan (Roxboro, N.C.) got the start and lasted 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out six. Suciu came on for one inning and allowed three hits with one strikeout.

Merchant Marine returns to action on Tuesday night, March 17, with a road game at Baruch College, scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. first pitch at MCU Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. (the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island).

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