The York College Spartan baseball team was eliminated from the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday when Christopher Newport's Billy Steel hit a walk-off bloop single down the first-base line with one out in the 10th inning, helping the Captains notch a 3-2 win at Jaquet Field.
The win enables Christopher Newport to advance to the championship round against Salisbury on Sunday in York.
The loss wasted a strong performance from Spartan freshman Randy Frankenfield. He tossed nine innings and suffered a no-decision. His defense let him down in the fateful ninth inning.
The game was an unexpected pitcher's dual. CNU's Justin Weaver and Frankenfield were locked scoreless tie through four innings of play.
The Spartans struck first in the top of the fifth when Colbe Herr drilled two-out, two-run single up the middle to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.
That looked like it would be enough for Frankenfield. The left-hander sliced his way through the potent Captain offense. Frankenfield had a stretch where he retired 21 of the 22 Captains he faced, with only Travis Younger's fifth-inning double preventing Frankenfield from retiring 21 straight.
That streak ended in the bottom of the ninth when Tommy Vitaletti doubled to deep center. The ball just cleared the glove of center fielder Andrew Hershey to lead off the inning. Steel then hit a double inside the right field line to score Vitaletti and get the Captains on the board. After Frankenfield got a fly out to left, he walked Justin Weaver to put Captains at first and second. Frankenfield coaxed Curtis Pittman into a ground out to third to move Steel to third and Weaver to second. Frankenfield looked like he closed out the game with a ground ball but the throw was wide of the bag, allowing the tying run to score when the game should have been over. Frankenfield got a fly out to right to end the inning but the damage had been done.
York got a runner on via an error with two outs in the top of the 10th but reliever Kyle Goddard escaped damage, setting the stage for the winning uprising in the bottom of the 10th.
A.J. Nicely singled up the middle to open the inning. Tommy Kane attempted to sacrifice Nicely to second but Spartan hurler Zach Philippi bounced off the mound and fired a strike to shortstop Colin Porter to cut down Nicely at second. Vitaletti pushed a pinch runner Preston Grissom to second with a single through the left side of the infield, setting the stage for Steel. He lifted a pitch from Philippi down the right-field line. The ball fell squarely on the line allowing Grissom to score the winning run from second, ending the Spartans' stay in the tournament.
Goddard earned the win. He tossed 5.1 innings of relief to earn the win. He allowed just three base runners. He allowed Herr's two-run single, one walk and one Spartan reached via error. He improved to 2-0. Weaver was very good in the spot start. He allowed two runs on four hits with two strikeouts and three walks in 4.2 innings of action.
Frankenfield tossed nine innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Philippi suffered the loss. He allowed a run on three hits in 0.1 innings of work.
Vitaletti led the Captains. He was 3-for-5 from his leadoff spot. Steel added two hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Pittman and Younger had the other hits for CNU.
Herr paced the Spartan offense with a hit and two RBIs. Brad Wenzel, Stephen Miele, Logan Countryman and Scott Steffy each had hits for York. Countryman's knock was a double for York's only extra-base hit for the game.
The Captains improved to 23-14. They will square off against Salisbury at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Spartans are now 22-7.
The Spartans conclude their regular season with 13 out-of-conference contests. That stretch begins on Monday when they host Johns Hopkins University in a make-up contest. The game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. start in York.