OLD ORCHARD BEACH — One inning.

That’s pretty much all it took for Southern Maine Community College to be eliminated from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association baseball tournament at The Ballpark.

Penn State Greater Allegheny scored nine runs in the third inning, eight with two outs aided by a couple of errors, to overcome an early deficit and beat the Seawolves 11-4 in an elimination game Tuesday night.

“That’s the way it’s been for us all year,” said first baseman Tyler Kelly. “If we can stay away from that one bad inning, we usually play a pretty good game.”

SMCC, which finished 20-24, led 2-0 entering the bottom of the third. Starter Jeremy Gearty was pitching well and second baseman Scott Madden made exceptional plays to end each of the first two innings.

Then it all fell apart.

A walk and an error put runners on first and third. Following an out, Scott Callen blooped an RBI single to right. Right fielder C.J. Giles made a sliding catch for the second out, but another walk loaded the bases.

Gearty got two strikes on Robbie Shartle and just missed on his third pitch. Then Gearty hit him, forcing in the tying run.

Winning pitcher Ted Fricke followed with a two-run single, and another walk loaded the bases.

One run scored on an error, another on a bases-loaded walk. After Keary Hoffman knocked in two with a single, Ryan Lalier replaced Gearty, and Callen greeted him with his second RBI single of the inning to make it 9-1.

“A couple of things went bad and it snowballed on us,” said Kelly. “We made a few errors, a couple of mental mistakes and it ended up in a lot of runs.”

But, said Kelly, the loss doesn’t lessen what SMCC accomplished this season. In their second appearance in the national tournament, the Seawolves went 1-2, including a 2-1 loss in extra innings on Monday to Briarcliffe, which had beaten SMCC 18-1 earlier in the year.

“It was a big thing for us to come out and play the way we did,” said Kelly. “We put a lot of things together at the end of the season. It bodes well for the future.”

Center fielder Charlie Boettcher hung around in the dugout afterward, reluctant to leave his teammates a final time.

“Obviously you’d love to go out with a win,” he said. “It’s been fun playing on this team. My focus is going to stay on (Monday) night’s game. That shows how far we came.”

SMCC also went 1-2 in its 2008 appearance in the tournament, the lone victory over Penn State Greater Allegheny, same as this year.

SMCC scored in the first without getting a hit. Giles led off with a walk, advanced to second on an errant pickoff by Fricke and to third on a groundout. He scored on a two-out wild pitch.

Giles then led off the third with an infield hit. After an out, Montana Colby singled to left and Nate Leeman followed with a grounder to third baseman Jason Paris. He stepped on third for the second out, then threw wide of first.

Right fielder Mike Visloski picked up the ball and threw wide of second trying to get Leeman, with Colby scoring the Seawolves’ second run.

“I’m proud of what this team did,” said SMCC Coach Phil Desjardins. “I told them to hold their heads up.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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