By Jeff Smyth
The KU men’s baseball team took on a Mansfield University squad who has dealt with a woeful season so far.
The Mounties came into Monday’s doubleheader just 1-13 on the season, as the Golden Bears looked for a clean sweep to improve to 12-6. Instead, the two teams split the double header, as KU took the first game 5-2, but were upset in the second game during a 14-inning thriller, 7-6.
Lefty Paul Piromalli took the hillbgame one for the Golden Bears and churned out his best performance of the season. The redshirt junior went the distance, pitching all seven innings with a career-high 11 strikeouts with no walks. His first complete
game of his career only consisted of two hits by the opposition and zero earned runs. Piromalli improved his season ERA to 0.78.
Junior Brady McNab followed the trend of having a career night with his first career homerun, giving the Golden Bears an early 2-0 first inning lead. Senior first basemen Brandon Hickey extended the lead to 3-0 with an RBI single that same inning. McNab ended up 2-3 at the plate on the day and is now hitting .458 on the season, which is good for third in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Manfield made it interesting with two un-earned runs making the score 3-2 in the third inning, but a pinch-hit RBI single by senior Ricky Gorrell and a sacrifice bunt that scored a run by Brandon Martinez, along with shutout baseball by Piromalli, sealed KU’s 5-2 win in the opener.
The nightcap consisted of enough time to play two games as it took the two teams 14 innings to decide the victor. The contest was the longest for the Golden Bears since May 4, 2013 against West Chester University.
Defense was shaky for the Bears as five errors occurred in the second game resulting in five unearned runs for Mansfield. McNab made his presence known again in game two with an RBI, but it was sophomore Dariel Richardson who stole the show for the KU offense, going 4-for-6 with a triple and three doubles, turning into two RBIs.
Mansfield had a one run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs and a Golden Bear on second when KU catcher Derian Sarlat smashed a single down the left field line to score the runner and force extra innings.
Bats for both teams went quiet for the next seven innings until top of the 14 inning on a base hit that scored the winning run from second for the Mounties. KU’s Matt Swarmer pitched 8.1 innings of relief striking out 14 but couldn’t get the offensive support to secure a win.
The Golden Bears look to bounce back this weekend against another PSAC foe in Shippensburg University with a four game series April 3 to the 4. KU looks to catch a winning stride again as playoffs draw near for the defending PSAC champs.