May 19, 2011

Bona Stays Alive In Postseason Race With Game 1 Win Over UMass

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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.
– The St. Bonaventure baseball team (22-22, 12-10 Atlantic 10 Conference) got eight shutout innings from starter Jordan Crane and cruised to a 10-0 win over visiting Massachusetts (16-28-1, 7-14-1 A-10) Thursday afternoon at Fred Handler Park.

The win keeps the Bonnies in eighth place in the A-10 ledger, just half a game out of fourth place. However, pending outcomes of later games on Thursday, the Bonnies could move as high as a tie for fifth place with just two conference outings left.

St. Bonaventure entered the weekend needing to sweep the Minutemen in the three-game series to give themselves the best chance to qualify for the six-team postseason tournament, and got off to the right start behind the right arm of Crane.

Crane – who has been pitching all year with a torn left ACL – scattered seven Minutemen hits while striking out four, tied for the second most in his career. The former reliever has now thrown at least eight innings in four of his last five starts, and on Thursday kept an opponent off the scoreboard for the first time in his career when throwing at least six innings. The junior tossed 99 pitches and decreased his already staff-low ERA to 2.76, now the sixth best in the entire conference.

The shutout is the first nine-inning blanking by the Bona pitching staff since a 4-0 decision on March 20, 2008 against Fordham. In that game, Jim Britton struck out 10 Rams while allowing just two hits over his eight innings of work.

At the plate, the Bonnies pounded out just eight hits to produce their 10 runs, aided by a pair of miscues by Minutemen fielders. Nick Brennen was the lone Bonnie to produce a multi-hit game, and he did so out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Jason Radwan, Eric Jutca and Justin Brozick all finished with two RBI, while Jamie Wallschlaeger scored three runs.

Radwan extending his hitting streak to 12 straight, and 14 consecutive in A-10 action, by going 1-for-3. Classmate Billy Urban recorded a sac fly and scored a run, but saw his 16-game hitting streak – the longest active stretch in the entire league – come to an end.

St. Bonaventure opened the scoring with a flurry in the bottom of the 1st by plating four runs in support of Crane. With leadoff hitter Brad Steinbach on third and Wallschlaeger on second, Radwan ripped a ground-rule double into the left-center gap to give the Bonnies a 2-0 lead. Later in the frame with the score 3-0, senior Alex Calderon delivered a two-out double down the right-field line to plate Jutca and pad the Bona cushion to 4-0.

The Bonnies added to their lead in the 3rd when Wallschlaeger led off the frame with a walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch from UMass starter Glen Misho to give the home team a 5-0 advantage.

A Brozick two-out, two-RBI single into right center in the 6th plated Jutca and Radwan to push the lead to 7-0. The Bonnies added three more runs in the 7th to finish their scoring for the afternoon.

Misho (5-4) was credited with the loss as the right hander surrendered all 10 runs – seven of which were earned – as he threw 6+ innings while striking out four and walking just as many.

Bona senior Michael Pease pitched the 9th inning in relief of Crane, and retired the Minutemen bats in order, including one strike out.

The two teams will be back in action for game two of the series on Friday at Noon. The Bonnies are expected to send redshirt junior Cael Johnson to the hill looking to keep their postseason hopes alive.