April 18, 2012

Gallaudet baseball reaches 20-win plateau for the first time in school history

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Five years ago the thought of Gallaudet University winning 20 baseball games in one season seemed as attainable as pitching a shutout considering the Bison lost 29 games by an average of 14 runs including a handful by 20 or more runs in 2008 as the team went 4-29.

It was those bad memories that brought great joy to a dreary rainy Wednesday afternoon at Hoy Field as the Bison hosted Penn St.-Harrisburg in a key North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) doubleheader. Gallaudet (20-15, 8-4 NEAC West Division) swept the twinbill 7-5 and 4-1 over the Nittany Lions (9-27, 3-9 NEAC West) to send off its two seniors, Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.) and William Chapman (Los Angeles, Calif.), in style as the Bison played the regular-season home finale.

Freshman Brandon Holsworth (Beal City, Mich.), the reigning NEAC Pitcher of the Week, threw a complete game in the second game to earn his third win in nine days. Holsworth allowed one unearned run off two hits, three walks and two strikeouts in seven innings of work. He received some help from the offense that scored two runs in the first inning and additional runs in the third and sixth innings. Sophomore catcher Casey Hicks (Henderson, Nev.) went 2-for-3 from the plate, drove in two runs and scored once.

In the first game, Hastings got the start on Senior Day as he pitched into the fourth innings before giving way to the bullpen. GU clung to a 3-2 lead heading into the fourth when both teams scored a run. GU tacked on one run in the fifth, 5-3, and two runs in the sixth. The Nittany Lions didn't go quietly in the top of the seventh when they scored two runs before sophomore pitcher Tyler Crace (Westfield, Ind.) picked up his third save in five days. Sophomore All-American William Bissell (Brewer, Maine) hit his team-leading fifth home run in the third inning. Junior shortstop Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) blasted his fourth home run of the season to lead off the sixth. Bissell and Chapman finished the first game with three hits apiece, scored a run and collected a RBI, as GU pounded out 13 hits in six innings. Hicks was a perfect 2-for-2 with two runs scored, one RBI while sophomore third baseman Chris Guinn  (McLoud, Okla.) collected two hits and a RBI in the win.

Hastings is the first four-year letterwinner under head coachCurtis Pride, now in his fourth season. Gallaudet hired Pride, an 11-year Major League Baseball veteran and the first deaf player in the majors since 1945, to take over the fledgling program in the fall of 2008. In the past four years the Bison have made a big turnaround under Pride's guidance.

GU won eight games his first season and four in 2009 before Gallaudet switched from the Capital Athletic Conference to the NEAC. Last season the Bison won 17 games to set the all-time school record for wins in a season breaking the mark of 16 set in 1899. Today, the new school mark reached 20 for the first time in school history and is still counting. Next up is securing a winning season, which has not happened since 1976.

Gallaudet will close out its NEAC regular-season schedule on the road Saturday, April 21, at Penn St.-Berks (9-18, 6-0 NEAC West).

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