By: Laura Chapman
Assistant Sports Information Director
firstname.lastname@example.org • juniatasports.net
HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Juniata College baseball team stepped onto a field for the first time this year and opened the 2014 season with a doubleheader at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Despite a strong start, the Eagles dropped both games, 12-8 and 15-1, respectively.
"We didn't show signs of being on a field for the first time this year," said head coach Jesse Leonard. "We got off the bus ready to go. I thought we played well given that it was our first game outside. It wasn't until the second game that we started to show some of that."
In game one, the Eagles got the 2014 offense going from the first inning when senior Joe Sforza (Pittstown, N.J./Immaculata) hit a two run homerun, scoring senior Brad Medellin (Lewisberry, Pa./Red Land) from third, for the early 2-0 lead. Medellin went 3-4 in game one scoring one run, while Sforza was 1-3 with three runs batten in. The Royals came back with a run of their own in the bottom of the second on a single to left field.
Juniata got things going again in the top of the fourth when sophomore Anthony Lombardo (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) singled home junior Cody Krepps (Tyrone, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) from second for the 3-1 lead. Krepps was 3-4 in the game and scored two runs. The offense continued to pile on with sophomore Chris Sinisi (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) lacing a two-run double to left followed by an RBI single from sophomore Sheridan Doan (Timonium, Md. / Dulaney High School) for the 6-1 Juniata advantage heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
"Offensively we were ready to go," said Leonard. "We played our game offensively, we put runners in scoring position early in the game, guys came in with the big hits, and Joe went out there and kept their hitter off balance, and we made plays. When we did that we were successful."
EMU scored twice in the bottom of the fourth, but Sforza closed the door with a strikeout to halt the Royals' momentum. Sforza threw four innings giving up just one earned run and striking out four. Freshman Brady Cotler (Chadds Ford, Pa./Salesianum) singled home the Eagles run in the top of the fifth. EMU exploded for six runs in the bottom of the frame to grab its first lead of the game, 9-7, with two innings remaining. Juniata scored once in the top of the sixth, but couldn't come back and fell 12-8 in the seven-inning game. Over the six innings pitched, the Eagles throwers surrendered eight runs and struck out eight.
"We've done the full scale of things in the first two games," added Leonard. "We played good solid technical baseball. The guys threw strikes and attacked hitters on the mound. They made plays on defense and played complete games. We've got some of our mental mistakes out of the way and some of the plays that need to be made weren't. I think we fit about ten games worth of things into two – we did a lot of good things and a lot of things we need to work on."
The Royals started off game two scoring in the first and second innings before the Eagles got on the board in the top of the third, on a double by senior Dan Gray (Johnstown, Pa. / Richland), for the 4-1 EMU lead. Gray was 1-2 in the game, driving in the lone Juniata run in game two. The Eagles offense totaled four hits in the second game with two walks and five left on base. Juniata fell 15-1 in game two with four Eagle pitchers combining over the six innings pitched to surrender nine runs and strikeout three EMU batters.
"We saw a lot today," said Leonard. "We saw a lot as a team of what we're capable and what we can do and need to do to be successful."
Juniata continues the opening weekend of the season tomorrow, in a doubleheader at Bridgewater College beginning at noon.
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