Altoona knocks off defending champ to win AMCC

Penn State-Altoona baseball team piles on the pitcher's mound at Stewart Athletic Field after a second-game win against Penn State-Behrend clinched the 2011 AMCC Championship.
Penn State-Altoona athletics photo

In a do-or-die scenario for the final game of the 2011 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference baseball tournament, No. 1 seed Penn State-Altoona took an early lead and held on to defeat No. 3 seed Penn State-Behrend 8-7 at Stewart Athletic Field, winning its second-ever AMCC title in baseball.

After struggling to come up with key hits in the first game of the day against Behrend, a 7-6 loss in 13 innings, Penn State-Altoona was able to plate runs early in the game to give themselves an advantage.

In the bottom of the first, Grady Luzier hit an RBI single to center to open the scoring for the Lions. Ryan Pollicino drew a bases loaded walk to bring home another run. Later in the inning, John Schall and Cord Heine scored on an error to make it 4-0.

Luzier did more damage in the second with another RBI hit to put his team up 5-0.

Behrend bounced back to score two runs in the top of the third on RBI singles from Geoff Lang and Blake Pavlik.

But the Lions got both runs back over the next two innings. Luzier collected his third RBI with a single to left in the third, and Matt Schmauder doubled down the right field line in the fourth to make it 7-2.

Behrend scored three runs in the fifth inning -- aided by a pair of Lion errors -- to cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 7-5.

Schall added a big insurance run for the Lions in the seventh with his RBI single to center that made it 8-5.

Run-scoring singles by Ryan Kragnes and Ed Kessler brought Behrend within 8-7 in the eighth inning, but Penn State Altoona's Trevor Conner shut the door and helped hold his team's lead.

Conner pitched the final three innings for his first save of the season.

Jack Palombo was the starting pitcher for Penn State-Altoona and picked up his second collegiate win after going the first six innings of the contest for the Lions. Although he allowed five runs, none of them were earned because of errors.

The win handed Penn State-Altoona its first AMCC baseball title since 2000.

The Lions also receive an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament, which begins next week. The team will find out who, where and when they will be playing in the tournament's opening round early next week.