York College junior pitcher Dan Gurganus walked the first St. Mary's batter to start the third inning in Wednesday afternoon's Capital Athletic Conference Tournament opener.
His catcher, senior Colbe Herr, followed that up by committing a throwing error when St. Mary's next batter laid down a bunt and Herr sailed a throw past first base. The blunder put runners on second and third with no outs. Gurganus then decided to try a pickoff attempt at second base, but his poor throw resulted in the baseball hopping off the glove of second baseman J.J. Oleniacz and rolling into center field, allowing St. Mary's to score a run.
The nerves of competing in the conference opener were clearly getting to the top-seeded Spartans, a Top-25 NCAA Division III-ranked team. That led to them falling behind early by four runs.
"I was even amped up," York College coach Mike Scappa said. "We were all a little amped up. We were looking forward to the tournament."
Like they've done so many times this season, the Spartans took a collective breath, regrouped, and eventually found their stroke on the offensive end. It led to a 7-6 win over St. Mary's (18-18) on a chilly but sunny afternoon on York College's Jaquet Field. The Spartans (21-5) have now won 11 games this season in come-from-behind fashion.
"We never quit," York freshman third baseman Scott Steffy said. "If they score we'll come back and tie it up and win it in the bottom of the ninth. That's our mentality the entire time. There's so much heart on this team I feel we can win every game no matter how many runs we're down."
Down 4-0 after the top of the third inning, York (21-5) scored a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame on a two-run single from Dallastown grad Derek Pitzer (2-for-4, two RBIs) to make it a two-score game.
Steffy (2-for-3, two RBIs, two runs scored) tied it up, 4-4, in the sixth inning with a two-run double to right field. Oleniacz followed with a sacrifice bunt that scored Logan Countryman (2-for-4, run scored) from third to give York its first lead of the day. And Steffy later scored on a wild pitch to extend the Spartans' lead to 6-4 through six innings. Up until that point, St. Mary's starter Sam Beatty (6-3), who entered the game with the conference lead in innings pitched (70.1) and strikeouts (64), had kept York's bats under control.
Gurganus, meanwhile, improved to 6-0 by holding St. Mary's to four runs (two earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks in seven innings.
After St. Mary's got a run in the top of the eighth, Steffy scored York's final run in the bottom half of the frame on sac fly from senior Andrew Hershey to push the lead to 7-5. The insurance run proved to be vital when St. Mary's scored on an RBI groundout in the ninth off York reliever Zach Phillipi. Senior left-hander Dan McNamara relieved Phillipi in the ninth with one out and runners on the corners and needed one pitch to get St. Mary's to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
York seniors Brad Wenzel and Colin Porter also each had a pair of hits in the victory, with the Spartans tallying 11 total hits.
York is the host site for the remainder of all of the CAC double-elimination tournament games, which will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Spartans next face Frostburg State (23-9) on Friday at 12:30 p.m. York last won the conference tournament in 1999.
OTHER YORK COLLEGE NOTES
Men's lacrosse team triumphs: The York College men's lacrosse team improved to 13-3 overall and 5-1 in the CAC with an 18-11 conference win over visiting St. Mary's (7-8, 3-3) on Wednesday afternoon. Andrew Gamble (five goals, one assist), Seth Krolus (four goals), Tyler Hutson (three goals, two assists) and James Lowe (two goals, two assists) each had multiple scores for the Spartans, while goalies Caleb Abney (nine saves in 53 minutes of action) and James Anderson (three saves in seven minutes) combined for 12 saves. Ranked No. 16 in the latest NCAA Division III rankings, York next travels to conference foe Christopher Newport (9-4, 3-3) this Saturday before competing in next week's conference tournament. York has already locked up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for the tournament.
Women's lacrosse team victorious: The York College women's lacrosse team improved to 12-3 overall and 5-1 in the CAC with a 11-5 conference win at St. Mary's (7-8, 3-3) on Wednesday. Sarah Castle (three goals), Eric Mulford (three goals) and Brittany Noell (two goals) each had multiple scores for the Spartans, while goalie Ashley Smith recorded 13 stops. Currently ranked No. 12 in the latest NCAA D-III rankings, York next travels to conference foe Christopher Newport (9-6, 3-3) this Saturday before competing in next week's conference tournament. York has already locked up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for the tournament.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.