|Chris Wagner||Connor Harding||Ian McIntosh|
|Kevin Haag||Matt Morrow|
SCRANTON - With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the game tied, freshman Chris Wagner (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) laced a game-winning, RBI single, as The University of Scranton baseball team rallied back from an early 5-0 deficit to notch a 6-5 victory over Juniata in Landmark Conference action at Volpe Field on Saturday.
With the win, Scranton moved to 5-7 overall and 2-1 in the Landmark Conference, while Juniata fell to 5-6, 0-1 in the Landmark with the tough defeat.
To start off, the game remained scoreless entering the fourth inning, as Scranton starter junior Bobby Hegarty (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) and Juniata starter Gavin Grimaldi kept the offenses at bay in the first three innings.
In the top of the fourth, however, Juniata struck, scoring three runs to take a 3-0 lead. After Scranton couldn't score in the bottom half of the frame, Juniata added two more runs in the top half of the fifth to take a 5-0 lead on the Royals after four and a half.
After another scoreless inning for the Scranton offense in the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth, as Wagner roped an RBI double to left center, scoring junior Brandon Peters (Peckville, Pa./Valley View) to make it a 5-1 game entering the seventh.
There, the Royals got back in the game thanks to a two-RBI triple by sophomore Connor Harding (Vestal, N.Y./Vestal) that brought juniors Tim Gailor (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and Travis Adams (Clark, N.J./St. Joseph's (Metuchen)) home to slice the Montreat lead down to 5-3 entering the final innings.
Both teams were quiet in the eighth, but in the top of the ninth and up by two runs, Juniata threatened to put the game away after putting a runner on second base with one out. Sophomore reliever Matt Morrow (Bethlehem, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic), however, got out of the jam unscathed, which set the stage for the Royals to complete their comeback in the bottom of the ninth.
In the ninth, the inning started slowly as Juniata forced a Scranton groundout. But, the rally began in earnest when Gailor forced a walk. Up next was Harding, who cracked a triple that scored Gailor from first, making it a 5-4 game.
With Harding on third, junior Kevin Haag (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining / Bridgton Academy (Maine)) came up and recorded an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Harding to make it a 5-5 game with two outs.
With no one on and two away, the Royals were not done. Next up was senior Ian McIntosh (Newtown, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.) who roped a double to centerfield, putting the winning run in scoring position. The next batter, Peters, kept the Royals alive after getting hit by a pitch, which set the stage for Wagner's heroics.
In Wagner's at-bat, he lifted a pitch just past Juniata's center fielder and into play toward the wall, easily scoring McIntosh from second to clinch the comeback victory for Scranton.
Overall, Wagner and Harding were dominant at the dish in the win for the Royals, as they each went 4-for-5, combining for eight of Scranton's 10 hits on the day. Harding ended the day with three RBI and a run scored, while Wagner had two RBI in the victory.
On the mound, Morrow tossed two innings of shutout relief of Hegarty to collect the win, his first of the 2019 season (1-2). He also struck out three in the win, while allowing just one hit in two frames of work.
Juniata reliever Julius Thomas (1-2) was credited with the loss, as he allowed three runs in an inning and two-thirds of work for the Eagles.
The University of Scranton baseball team returns to action on Sunday, as they conclude their Landmark Conference series with Juniata at Volpe Field with a doubleheader. First pitch for game one of the double-dip is set for 11 a.m.