By Steve Maugeri
The Kutztown University baseball team faced a win-or-go-home scenario this weekend. They needed two wins in order to make a return trip to the PSAC playoffs. By the weekend’s end, that goal became a reality. The Golden Bears swept PSAC rival East Stroudsburg by final scores of 9-1 and 5-3.
With the win, KU forced a three-way tie for the fourth seed in the PSAC East. Kutztown won the tiebreaker because their record was higher than all three other teams. After winning seven of their final eight games, KU qualified for the PSAC tournament for the third consecutive year.
The first game was an offensive showcase over the first three innings, as the Golden Bears scored eight of their nine runs over that span. The majority of the runs were scored in a five-run inning for the Golden Bears. With the offense flexing its muscles through the first three innings, starting pitcher Colin Holmes had all the breathing room he needed to finish his fourth complete game of the season. With the win, the senior is now 5-4 on the season. Senior Kyle Stoudt provided the offensive sparkplug, with 3 hits on the day. Collectively, the Golden Bears totaled 13 hits, which is the most in a conference game this season.
The day game only made the nightcap more interesting, as the winner would advance to the playoffs. Sophomore Matt Swarmer was put in an unusual position, as the typical relief pitcher was given the nod to start. Swarmer made a bid to start again, as he held the PSAC’s most efficient offense to a mere three runs, while striking out a career-high nine batters. Swarmer began the game with a three run cushion, as Brandon Martinez drove in John Dockins and Ricky Gorrell with a triple, before Stoudt drove him in the next at-bat. The Warriors of ESU would respond with a three-run fifth inning.
Warren Simpson began the sixth inning with his first ever career home run to extend the KU lead to 5-3. Swarmer was relieved by Brandon Shimo. The senior got off to a strong start by recording two quick outs by strikeout and by a line-out. However, he would then hit his next two batters to put the game-tying runs on base before regaining his composure by forcing a pop-out to punch the Golden Bears’ ticket to the playoffs.
Notably, junior Brandon Martinez stole his 32nd and 33rd bases of the season, which moved him into second all-time in school history.
The Golden Bears will travel west to participate in the first round of the PSAC playoffs when they will compete against Seton Hill on Wednesday at 6:30 pm.