With the 2016 academic year in the books, the Shippensburg University baseball squad opened up postseason play Sunday in Butler, Pennsylvania, with a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff game against nationally-ranked No. 21 Mercyhurst University. The Raiders got off to a strong start before a five-run eighth inning by Mercyhurst spelled the end for SU.
The Raiders knew going into the game that runs were going to be tough to come by with Mercyhurst ace, and Major League Baseball prospect, Colin McKee on the mound.
To make matters worse, the Raiders found themselves down 1-0 after Mercyhurst picked up a run in the top of the first on a wild pitch by SU starting pitcher Marcus Shippey. McKee came into the contest ready to roll, retiring the first 11 Raiders to step up to the plate without missing a beat. Seven of McKee’s first 11 outs were via the strikeout.
In the fourth inning, the Raiders found a way to do some damage. McKee continued rolling into the inning before Dalton Hoiles ripped a double to left field. Sophomore Nick Spangler would follow with an RBI-single to draw the game back even for the Raiders. Senior Austin Allison later tripled, scoring Spangler and Ryan McMillen who reached base on a five-pitch walk. The Raiders scored all three runs with two outs, taking a 3-1 lead after four innings of play.
In the fifth inning, the Lakers would get a run back. The Lakers kicked off the inning with a triple by Austin Alonge. Alonge later scored the Laker’s second run of the ball game on an error by SU catcher Jake Kennedy. The Lakers picked up another run in the sixth inning when Collin Fantaskey grounded out the short, scoring Cameron Balego to tie the game, 3-3.
The teams reached a stalemate until the eighth inning, when the Lakers blew the game open. Mercyhurst picked up five runs in the inning—four of them unearned, to take an 8-3 lead. The Lakers started the rally when a groundball was hit to SU shortstop Mike Marcinko, who made a great play in the hole to field a ball, but his throw to third base was a one-hopper that allowed the runner to beat out the throw on a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners.
The next at-bat featured a fly-ball to deep right field that was dropped on the warning track—allowing the first of the five runs the Lakers scored in the inning.
For Mercyhurst, McKee improved to 10-1 on the season. McKee went eight strong-innings for the Lakers, giving up four walks, five hits and three runs, while striking-out nine Raiders. For McKee, it was only the second time all season that he gave up three runs in a game.
SU pitcher Kyle McClintock took the loss in the game, despite only one of the four runs he gave up being earned. SU’s starter, Shippey, pitched very effectively on the day, throwing seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned), on seven hits through 5 and 1/3 innings.
With the loss, SU falls to 25-26, (14-15) PSAC and the Raiders will need to win their next game to stay alive in the PSAC playoffs. SU will face the No. 3 seed out of the PSAC Western Division, Gannon University, today at 12:30 p.m. in Butler, Pennsylvania.