OLD ORCHARD BEACH — It was a good-news, bad-news day for the Southern Maine Community College baseball team on the opening day of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association baseball national tournament.

Jamal Mustafa of Gorham pitched a three-hitter to lead SMCC to a 5-3 win Monday afternoon over Penn State-Greater Allegheny.

The Seawolves then faced No. 2 seed Briarcliffe (21-11) in a night game, but their bid for a second victory came up short, as Briarcliffe got a two-out infield single in the bottom of the eighth to pull out a 2-1 win.

“That’s a tough loss,” said SMCC Coach Phil Desjardins. “But I told the guys to keep their heads up. That was one heck of a game. They never died.”

SMCC (20-23), the No. 10 seed, dropped into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will play at 9 p.m. tonight against either Penn State Greater Allegheny or Southern Virginia.

Charlie Boettcher, who includes a knuckleball in his repertoire, took the loss in Game 2. But he said Monday’s performance by the Seawolves was admirable, considering that they lost 18-1 to Briarcliffe earlier in the season.

“It shows how much we’ve grown,” said Boettcher (3-4). “You can’t ask for more, other than had we won. We really stuck with one of the better teams in the conference.”

The winning hit came from the bat of right fielder Sam Braverman, who be out a grounder to second base as Reggie Smith scored.

“The ball seemed to slow down and he ran it out,” said Desjardins.

Briarcliffe took a 1-0 lead on a passed ball in the fifth inning.

SMCC tied it in the sixth when C.J. Giles hit a leadoff triple to right-center and scored on Montana Colby’s one-out double.

Colby nearly scored the go-ahead run moments later, but he was thrown out at the plate while trying to scoring on a single by Nate Leeman.

In SMCC’s first game, Mustafa was the standout, throwing 123 pitches. His last pitch was a cutter that was lofted to center field by Mike Visloski for the final out.

That squelched a two-run, seventh-inning rally.

“I was going to go the whole game no matter what,” said Mustafa, a former Gorham High standout. “(In the) first inning my arm felt really good, and I knew this was going to be a good game.”

The Seawolves gave him plenty of support, scoring five runs on 11 hits and an error.

SMCC got on the board early when Leeman singled home a pair of runs in the first inning.

With two runners on, Giles beat out an infield single in the second inning, and Tyler Kelly crossed the plate to make it 3-0.

The Nittany Lions got on the board in the second inning with a sacrifice fly by second baseman Ted Fricke that scored catcher Josh Kubisz.

SMCC picked up a run in the third and another in the fourth, both on errors, to go up 5-1.

The Nittany Lions didn’t threaten again until the seventh, when third baseman Jason Paris hit a two-run single that cut the deficit to 5-3.

Mustafa hung in, though, and got the final out.

“He knew where to mix his pitches,” said Visloski. “He definitely had his stuff.”

Said Desjardins: “He’s our hardest throwing pitcher. I knew I was going with him.”

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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