By Pete Chiodo
April 28, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
The rest of Eric Brandt looked normal. His right arm, however, appeared all Hulked out due to the bulging bags of ice wrapped tightly along its length.
The arm had certainly earned it. The Allegheny junior’s right appendage worked through nine innings — some of them quite long — during the second game of the Gators’ North Coast Athletic Conference doubleheader against Wooster, Saturday at Robertson Athletic Conference.
“It’s a little tired right now,” said Brandt. “I threw 147 pitches, 148, something like that. And that’s low, when you consider that after the first three innings I had 64.”
All that, and he didn’t even get the decision.
“No,” he said. “But we won. And that’s all that matters.”
The Gators waited until the 10th inning to get that win. Frank Triozzi’s one-out single to left plated Mike Pezzone, handing Allegheny a 6-5 victory over the visiting Fighting Scots. That salvaged a split for the day — the Gators lost to the Scots 2-1 in Saturday’s opener — and it kept alive Allegheny’s hopes for stealing first place in the NCAC’s East Division away from Wooster.
All Allegheny (20-12, 9-5 NCAC) has to do now is sweep the Scots (23-10, 11-3) when the two teams meet up for another doubleheader today at noon at Robertson.
A split today means Allegheny will settle for second place in the East. That’s not so bad. The Gators will still get home field advantage for the best-of-three series with the No. 3 seed out of the West, the winner of which will advance to the NCAC championship tournament.
If Wooster manages to win both games today, Allegheny would find itself tied with Oberlin. And in that instance, the Gators could be faced with a literal coin flip to determine which team gets the second seed and home field advantage for the inter-divisional series.
It’s no secret which outcome the Gators are voting for.
“I think we found out that we can beat Wooster,” said Triozzi. “We came into this weekend thinking that if we could take two games we could get second place. But our mentality is that we can win both games (today). We have two more starting pitchers that we believe can get the job done. We’re swinging the bats. And thanks to this win, we’ll have the momentum going into (today’s games).”
Both sides of Saturday’s doubleheader certainly could have gone either way.
The opening game featured an outstanding pitching duel between Allegheny’s Kyle Davis and Wooster’s Keenan White.
Allegheny got to White first. Joe Killian led off the second inning with a single and later moved to third on an error. James Kim then batted into a double play, but earned the RBI as Killian scurried home.
(Kim would later leave the first game in the fifth inning after suffering a shoulder injury while getting picked off of first base. His status for today’s doubleheader is unknown.)
That was all the offense Allegheny would get, however. White ended his day with one unearned run on three hits with one walk and one strikeout through six and a third innings.
Steve Hagen got the save, holding off Allegheny through the final two-thirds.
Wooster eventually scratched across a couple runs against Davis in the sixth thanks to RBI singles from Jarrod Mancine and Zac Mathie.
That would be all the Scots needed.
Davis ended the game allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and five Ks during a complete game.
The second game was also pitched well. There was considerably more hitting going on. But Brandt, especially, just kept working and working. He finished his day allowing five runs on 10 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
His biggest mistake came in the third inning when with two outs he yielded a single to Mancine, plunked John McLain, and then gave up a three-run bomb to left-center to Eddie Reese, which gave Wooster a 3-2 lead.
Allegheny then trailed for the rest of the game, but kept pecking away at Wooster’s lead, ending up with a line score that looks like binary code — 1101010011.
“You’ve got to give our guys credit,” said Allegheny head coach Kelly Swiney. “They kept fighting and fighting and fighting.”
The Gators finally pulled even with the Scots in the bottom of the ninth. Ben Kirchler led it off with a single to center field.
Davis laid down a bunt to get Kirchler over. Scots first baseman Cal Thomay attempted to tag Davis, but the ball squirted out of his glove, putting two runners on.
Mike Kastelic bunted both runners over with a sacrifice. And Killian hit a grounder to second to score Kirchler, tying the game at 5-5.
Frank Brank took the mound in the 10th and worked a 1-2-3 inning with help from the Gators’ defense.
Pezzone and Triozzi — along with a sac bunt from Ben Murray — took care of business in the bottom of the 10th.
Triozzi ended the second game 3-for-5 with an RBI.
“I’m proud of Triozzi,” said Swiney. “He caught for 17 innings and then he stepped and got that big hit for us in the end.”
Kirchler was 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored.
Murray and Pezzone both had two hits. Pezzone scored three times. Murray slugged a solo home run to right field in the fourth inning. He also had a double to the wall in his next at-bat in the sixth.
“Ben Murray usually comes in to pinch hit, or he’ll have a spot start here or there,” said Swiney. “But he came in to DH for us and did an outstanding job — a home run, a double and that sac bunt.”