BRADFORD, Pa. – Fifth-seeded Penn State Altoona baseball topped fourth seed Pitt-Bradford 17-5 on Monday in game three of the teams' Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament first round best-of-three series at the Kessel Athletic Complex.
With the win, Penn State Altoona (17-19) will advance to the AMCC championship rounds – the league's final four – for the first time since the 2011 season, when the Lions went on to win the conference title. Penn State Altoona will face top seed and host school La Roche College on Thursday, May 10 at 4:00 p.m. in its first game of the championship rounds.
The Lions posted one of their most complete performances in their biggest game of the season on Monday. The bats continued to produce, as the team scored 17 runs on 11 hits. The pitching limited Pitt-Bradford to five runs on eight hits, and the defense committed just one error.
"Great team win today. We had four pitchers combine to hold a very good Pitt-Bradford offense to only eight hits. We turned a few big double plays defensively, we had some guys come off the bench who really came up clutch, and we had good at-bats offensively," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "It was a complete team victory. It will be nice to finally get back to the final four for the first time since 2011, and hopefully, we can keep our bats hot."
Penn State Altoona received a good start on the mound from Aaron Sharp (Freeburg, PA/Midd-West) who pitched 4 1/3 innings and limited Pitt-Bradford to one run on four hits and five walks with one strikeout. Oliver Dailey (Boalsburg, PA/State College) followed by pitching 2/3 inning in relief, picking up his first win of the season. Aaron Smith (Duncansville, PA/Hollidaysburg) pitched 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, and Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) tossed the final 2 2/3 innings with three strikeouts.
At the plate, Jim Shomberg (Lansdale, PA/Methacton) had another big day for the Lions, going 2-for-3 with two home runs, five RBI, five runs scored, and three walks. His totals of two homers and five runs scored are both tied for the most in a single game in Penn State Altoona baseball history.
Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda) was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI, one run scored, and three walks. Austin Anderson (Macungie, PA/Emmaus) finished with three RBI and two runs scored, Peter Jacobs (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) had four runs scored and three walks, and George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) drew three walks and scored two runs.
As a team, Penn State Altoona walked 16 times, setting a new team single game record for the most walks drawn in a game.
Pitt-Bradford (17-16) drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning on Joshua Zelinski's RBI single through the right side.
But Penn State Altoona tied the game in the top of the fourth on Bates' RBI infield single to shortstop. The Lions jumped ahead in the fifth on Anderson's RBI double to left and Shomberg's two-run homer to right-center, and in the top half of the seventh, Shomberg hit another two-run shot over the right-center field fence to make it 6-1. Shomberg has now hit a team-high six home runs this season.
Pitt-Bradford threatened to come back in the bottom of the seventh, when Austin Parent hit a three-run home run to narrow Penn State Altoona's lead to 6-4.
But the Lions turned a close contest into a wide margin, breaking the game open with a seven-run top of the eighth. Jacobs, Anderson, and Shomberg each drew bases loaded walks to score runs, and Jordan McCall (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) hit a two RBI double to left to make it 11-4. Sawyer Duffey (Waynesboro, PA/Waynesboro) followed with an RBI double to right, and McCall scored on a throwing error to extend the Lions' advantage to 13-4.
Penn State Altoona scored four more runs in the top of the ninth. Stiuso led off the inning with a walk and later scored on a wild pitch before Anderson's sacrifice fly to center got another run across. Bates and Breon each had bases loaded walks to score runs, making it 17-4.
Pitt-Bradford scored a run in the bottom of the ninth when Parent scored on a wild pitch.