Back and forth

Published by Aidan Treu, Date: April 22, 2024

Slippery Rock baseball racked up 29 runs in their four-game series split with California University (Pa.) over the weekend of April 13-14.

The run total is their most in an in-conference series so far this year by 11 runs. More than half of the runs came in a 15-9 offensive explosion in game four.

Gage Gillott and Nate Malak highlighted the first two games. Both pitchers tossed six innings and had more than one strikeout per inning on average.

Koby Bubash served as a thorn in the Vulcans’ side over the whole series. The second baseman registered a hit in every game and recorded multi-hit efforts in three of the four contests.

The series moves The Rock to 19-11 overall and 10-6 in PSAC play. Indiana University (Pa.) and Cal U sit at second and third in the PSAC-West (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) also at 10-6 in conference, placing SRU in fourth.

Game one

The Rock took too long to get going offensively in game one. They lost 3-2 despite not allowing Cal U to score after the second inning.

Gillott put forward a strong performance on the mound, striking out eight over six innings of three-run ball, two of which were earned.

A pair of singles by Ryan Callahan and Payton Conte put the Vulcans up 2-0 in the first inning. Bubash homered in the top of the second to cut the lead to one run, but Nathan Meeks responded with a long ball of his own in the bottom of the frame to recoup his squad’s losses.

The only run scored from that point was a Cam Panyko Morris sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Cal U’s Jackson Miller earned the win and Jake Kramer recorded the save. Despite his effective outing, Gillott was tagged with the loss.

Game two

The White and Green offense bounced back in game two and kept the pressure on to complement their pitching staff’s outstanding effort in a 5-0 shutout victory.

Robby Barrientos got the scoring started with a second inning RBI single. Braden Olson followed up with an RBI knock of his own.

The Rock’s shortstop tripled in the fourth as well to bring in Brandon Butler to extend the lead to 3-0. The sixth inning rounded out the game’s scoring as Butler singled and Olson hit a sacrifice fly to bring in two runs.

Malak put forth the best effort of his young career to stifle the Vulcans’ offense. The righty allowed just two baserunners and struck out seven across six shutout innings to earn the win. Joey Vanzin came in for one inning of relief to finish the shutout.

Game three

Both offenses were operating in high gear at Jack Critchfield Park on Sunday. They combined for 40 runs over 14 innings.

The Vulcans put up two runs in the top of the first and were answered by a Robby Barrientos two-run homer.

Cal U went on to score six runs between the third, fourth and fifth innings. SRU rallied for four in the bottom of the fourth but the hole was too deep for a comeback.

The Vulcan’s Santino Marra’s seventh inning home run was the nail in the coffin. Butler tacked on a homer of his own the finish the scoring but Kramer locked it down from there and tallied another save.

Joey Purcell got the loss for his six innings of work.

Game four

The final game of the set was highlighted by offensive outbursts in the third and fifth innings by the White and Green. The Rock brought nine batters to the plate in the third and 13 in the fifth, scoring 13 runs between the two frames.

Cal U tried their hand at an eleven-run comeback in the last inning and brought five runs across but it would have taken a monumental effort to make the game close again. Gino Marra recorded the final three outs to ensure that would not happen.

Six Rock batters had multi-hit games. Butler, Panyko Morris, Ross and Bubash all reached base three times.

Ross, Gillott and Barrientos each tallied three RBI while Bubash and Michael Kitko both had two.

When the smoke cleared from the offensive showdown, the White and Green were on top 15-9.

The Rock resumed PSAC play last weekend with four games against Gannon University. Saturday’s game took place at Slippery Rock’s Jack Critchfield Park and Sunday’s happened on Gannon’s home turf.


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