MOOSIC, Pa. – Despite being one out away from staving off elimination, the Crusader baseball team gave up a late-inning rally to Wesleyan (Conn.) and fell to the Cardinals 4-3, dropping out of the NCAA Tournament at PNC Field.
Susquehanna (30-14), the Landmark Conference champions, set program-records for wins in a season as well as numerous individual accomplishments this year in the most successful campaign in the team’s history.
The Crusaders were ahead 3-0 after seven innings of action but the Cardinals (31-12) put together a pair of two-run frames in the eighth and ninth to complete the comeback.
Freshman Eric Soranno (Watchung, N.J. / Watchung Hills) earned the starting nod and the righty pitched well, going 5.1 innings without allowing a run while striking out two and allowing six hits.
Classmate Bobby Wittemann (Warrington, Pa. / Central Bucks South) hurled two innings in relief and Liam Conboy (Old Tappan, N.J / Northern Valley Regional) recorded two outs from the bullpen.
Senior Ty Raubenstine (Elizabethville, Pa. / Upper Dauphin Area) scored two runs for the Crusaders and made a trio of great catches in center field. Raubenstine leaves his name etched in the SU record books, being in the top-ten of several offensive categories.
Junior designated hitter Kyle Semmel (Burlington Twp., N.J. / Holy Cross) led the Crusaders with three hits on the day as SU finished with nine base knocks. Sophomore Bryan Palsi (Brielle, N.J. / Manasquan) drove in a pair of runs in the defeat.
In the first inning, Raubenstine reached on an error and eventually scored on a single by Palsi to give SU a 1-0 lead. The Crusaders tacked on another run in the third in similar fashion as Raubenstine reached on another Cardinal miscue and was driven in on a sacrifice fly by Palsi as the Orange & Maroon took a 2-0 edge. SU went ahead 3-0 in the seventh thanks to another Wesleyan error.
Senior closer Matt Smith (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. / Wyoming Seminary), who had a school-record 13 saves this year, appeared in the ninth and with two outs, Wesleyan scored the tying and go-ahead run to put the Crusaders in a 4-3 hole.
Wesleyan’s stopper came in the bottom of the frame and fanned SU in order to eliminate the Crusaders and advance to the regional championship against Baldwin Wallace at 3:30 p.m.