Rock baseball split a doubleheader with first-place California University (Pa.) Tuesday afternoon with SRU winning the first game in walk-off fashion 3-2 but losing the second game 11-7.
SRU now has an 8-27 overall record and is on its way to its way to its worst regular season record the program has seen since head coach Jeff Messer took over 31 years ago.
“It’s hard because, physically, I think we match up with anyone in the conference,” Messer said. “Unfortunately, that is not indicated in the wins and losses. Right now we don’t have any pressure on us at all, we are just playing for pride and for fun. For some of these guys, their baseball shelf life is almost done, so every game they play is just one step closer to the end of their career. So we are just trying to make it as enjoyable as possible but we still want to win every single game.”
The games were played in Washington, Pa. after originally being scheduled to be played in Slippery Rock over the weekend, but due to field and weather conditions the date and place were moved. Since SRU was originally scheduled as the home team, it still acted as the home team despite the game’s being played at Cal U’s location.
Game one was won in style for Slippery Rock, as senior Alex Bell launched his ninth home run of the season to walk it off. Before Bell’s heroics, freshman Joe Campagna hit a two-run home run in the second inning to give SRU the early 2-0 lead. The Vulcans were able to tie the game up in the fifth inning, setting the scene for Bell to win it in the seventh.
Sophomore Matt Gordon got the nod to start game one on the mound for the Green and White. Gordon pitched five full innings while allowing just one earned run and striking out two. Junior James Divosevic came in to relieve Gordon in the sixth inning and pitched two scoreless frames to earn the win. Divosevic is now 1-2 on the year.
Messer praised Gordon for the work he has done this season despite battling through some injuries.
“He could have shut (his season) down but instead he’s pitched for us and came out against a first place California team put us in a position to win,” Messer said.
“We ended up taking the first game in a walk off and it sent us into the next game with some momentum, or so we thought.”
The Rock would not hold momentum in the second game as sophomore Shawn Holman started the game on the pitcher’s mound in game two, allowing just one earned run over 2.1 innings of work. He was replaced by sophomore Stephen McKee in the third inning, who lasted two full innings but allowed four earned runs. Six Rock pitchers appeared in the second game, but it was sophomore Andrew Null who was credited with the loss after allowing three runs 0.2 innings of relief.
Bell, sophomore Tyler Walters and freshman Frankie Jezioro each totaled two hits for SRU during the second game. Bell scored three runs during the game while Jezioro drove in two. Sophomore Matt Mandes had three RBI’s during the game after clearing the bases with a triple down the right-field line in the fourth inning. The Rock actually had a 7-6 lead heading into the sixth inning before allowing five runs in the top half of the frame, sealing Cal U’s victory in game two.
SRU hosts Gannon University Friday at Jack Critchfield Park to begin a four-game home-and-away series with a 1 p.m. first pitch scheduled. The game date and time is subject to change due to weather and field drainage concerns.