This past week in KU baseball was highlighted by a dominating hitting performance as well as a pitching carousel in which nine pitchers pitched in a single game. The Golden Bears scored a season-high 17 runs against Philadelphia University in a 17-2 victory. The next day, KU participated in the Albright game, an inter-division tradition that is held at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the AA Reading Phillies.
It was a long week for the Golden Bears who played four different teams beginning with Felician College on Tuesday, April 17. The KU pitching staff recorded their fifth shutout of the season in the narrow, 1-0 victory.
Freshman Matt Swarmer started the game and earned his first win as a Golden Bear. He pitched four innings allowing one hit and recorded five strikeouts. Freshman James Rossi added two innings and two strikeouts. Also, pitching two innings was Senior JR Seader. Seader didn’t surrender a single hit. Senior Billy Felo came in for the save opportunity. A one out double didn’t shake Felo’s confidence as he immediately struck out the next batter. A groundout later and Felo earned his first save of the year.
Carrying the offensive weight was sophomore Ricky Gorrell. Gorell went 3-4 and had three of KU’s five hits in the game. His third inning RBI was essential for KU to come out with the win.
KU’s next victory was over Philadelphia University. KU had season-highs in runs (17), RBIs (15), stolen bases (8) and hits (18). Not only were the bats honing in on the ball, but the pitching was on point too. With 12 strikeouts, KU tied their second-highest strikeout total of the season.
Philadelphia University struggled pitching. Their bullpen hit five batters on KU and couldn’t find the strike zone either, walking seven batters.
Sophomore Brandon Martinez took full advantage of the faulty pitching and had a career game. Martinez led the team in hits (4), runs (3), RBIs (5) and stolen bases (3). Although senior Todd Rudendall had two errors fielding, his bat was also on point in this game. He went 3-3 at the plate and scored two runs in the process.
Getting the start, junior Jordan Gottshall pitched four solid innings allowing the only two runs in the game off two hits. Despite Gottshall’s seven strikeouts, he still was not awarded the win in this game. Picking up the win with just an inning pitched was senior Damon Vallero, his first of the season.
The last win of the week came during the traditional Albright vs KU game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Before the game, KU had an 8-2 advantage against Albright. Their last loss to Albright came April 21, 2008 by a score of 5-4.
“It’s an exciting tradition,” Felo said. “Very proud to be a part of it. The coach tries to get everyone in the game. Were Division II athletes, it’s not likely we’ll ever play at FirstEnergy Stadium otherwise. An amazing opportunity for players who won’t see any minor league playing time.”
KU had nine different pitchers throw on the FirstEnergy mound. Each pitcher pitched one inning each. As far as batting is concerned, 16 Golden Bears recorded at least one at bat and 17 players entered the game (Martinez being the lone fielder without an at-bat.)
The Division III Albright University seemingly had no chance in this game. History proved correct in this one as well, KU won 6-1. The Golden Bears out hit Albright 10-3. In addition, KU had more strikouts than their opposition 8-3.
Pitching was crucial against Albright and senior Gilbert Vega was the starting pitcher in the game. Though this was an entire bullpen effort, Vego notched his second win of the season. The two standout pitchers were Swarmer and Felo coming in during the eighth and ninth inning to close the game. Swarmer stuck out the side and left just one man on base with a walk. Though it was not a save situation, Felo came into the game late and added two strikeouts.
Junior Kyle Stoudt and sophomore Travis Kreitz stepped up under the lights. With just two at-bats, Stoudt had two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Kreitz had similar numbers with two hits and two runs.
“It’s a long season, but it’s almost over,” Felo said. “We have like two-weeks left before things get really interesting. All it takes is Gorrell, Albaugh or any of the good players on our team to get hot for us to make some noise in the postseason.”
KU is currently No. 27 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball National Poll. The Golden Bears sport a 26-9 overall record, 12-4 in the PSAC. There are 10 games left in the season before the PSA Championships on May 8.
Against winning teams, KU has a losing record of of 8-9. This could prove detrimental for the Golden Bears as they will play four games against both East Stroudsburg University (24-10, 9-5 PSAC) and West Chester University (18-16-1, 9-7 PSAC.) KU is the second best team in the PSAC East division. East Stroudsburg is currently third and West Chester hold the fourth spot.
The Golden Bears will travel to East Stroudsburg Friday, April 26 for the first double header of the weekend series. KU will return home the next day for another pair of games beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
By Frank Lippincott