Royals Bid To Win Landmark Title Falls Short With 14-9 Loss To Catholic; Stallone Records 200th Career Hit
BETHLEHEM, Pa.—The University of Scranton had the spirit as it faced the prospect of winning two games today against Catholic University in the championship bracket of the Landmark Conference tournament Monday afternoon at Gillespie Field on the campus of Moravian College.
What the Royals didn't have, however, were enough fresh arms.
Needing only one win coming out of the winner's bracket, the Cardinals pounded away at six Scranton pitchers and earned their third Landmark Conference championship in four years with a 14-9 victory.
The Cardinals, now 22-19, erased an early 2-0 deficit, built up an 11-2 lead after four innings, and withstood every spurt the Royals made in the middle and late innings. With the win, Catholic receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III championships.
Senior Chris Stallone (South Plainfield, N.J./South Plainfield) led the Royals with four hits, including the 200th of his career—a perfectly-placed bunt in the second inning—and senior David Giglio (Wallingford, Conn./Xavier) and sophomore Tim LeCompte (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic) had three apiece.
The Royals, who end the season with a 24-18 record and who were playing their fourth 9-inning game in three days, also received two hits from junior Matt Rayha (Willow Street, Pa./Penn Manor) and a three-run double from sophomore Michael Gaeta (Cranford, N.J./Cranford).
Sophomore Chris McCloud (Fairfax Station, Va./Robinson Secondary) led the Cardinals with three hits, including a three-run home run in the first inning to put Catholic ahead for good, and drove in four runs and freshman Marc Hanna (Bloomfield, N.J./St. Peter's Preparatory) had three hits, including a double, and drove in three runs.
Junior Dave Grear (Runnemeade, N.J./Paul VI) belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh for the Cardinals after Scranton scored four times in the top half of the frame to close within three. Grear's two-run shot turned a slightly nervous 11-8 lead into a comfortable five-run margin.
Prior to its four-run outburst in the seventh, which included a bases-clearing double by Gaeta and an RBI ground out by Rayha, Scranton had a chance to put even more pressure on the Cardinals in the sixth. The Royals made a costly base-running mistake that turned a potential bases-loaded, no out situation into a first and third with one out. The next batter then grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Scranton continued its momentum from yesterday's wins over Susquehanna and Moravian in the first inning. Stallone led off with a single and came around to score on a double by sophomore Richard Pohl (Belvidere, N.J./Belvidere). Senior Jeff Manahan (Morris Plains, N.J./Morristown) then knocked in Pohl with a single up the middle as Scranton led 2-0.
Unfortunately, Scranton's momentum evaporated after McCloud's three-run home run in the first followed by a six-run outburst in the fourth that put the Cardinals clearly in the driver's seat.
Stallone finished his career with 202 hits, including 26 doubles, five triples and three home runs. He also ends his career with .401 batting average, a .490 slugging percentage, and a .466 on-base percentage.
Giglio and Manahan also put up impressive numbers for Scranton over the past four seasons. Giglio batted .371 for his career, with 156 hits, including 35 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs, and 148 RBI. He also finishes with a .544 slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage. Manahan hit .290 in 114 career games and had 92 hits, including 21 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, and drove in 85 runs.
In the past two seasons, senior Jason Lane (Moosic, Pa./Riverside) also made an impact on the program, hitting .308, with 57 hits, including nine doubles, a triple and four home runs.
The Royals will also bid farewell to seniors Mike Yasson (Stony Brook, N.Y./Ward Melville), John Rogers (Allenhurst, N.J./Red Bank Catholic), Chris Velazquez (Pomona, N.Y./Albertus Magnus), and Joe Amicucci (Pomona, N.Y./Albertus Magnus).
This year's Senior Class led the Royals to a four-year record of 84-76, including two Landmark Conference championship bracket appearances (2008, 2011) and a school-record 26-win season in 2008.