Baseball Edges Ithaca in NCAA Regional, 7-6

Auburn, NY (5/16/08) - The fourth-seeded Montclair State Red Hawks (28-19) beat the second-seeded Ithaca Bombers (30-13) 7-6 in Friday's first game at the NCAA Division III baseball regional tournament hosted by Ithaca College at Auburn's Falcon Park.

The Red Hawks avenged a pair of losses to Ithaca last weekend, including a 5-4 loss on Sunday. MSU advances to play either fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut or seventh-seeded Ohio Wesleyan Friday at 7:45 p.m. in an elimination game. The Bombers were eliminated from the playoffs.

Junior left fielder Ed Kloepping (Pennsville, NJ / Pennsville) led off the top of the ninth with a triple off the right-center field wall and scored the winning run a batter later on junior third baseman Steve Piscitello's (Hauppague, NY / Hauppague) sacrifice fly. The Bombers put the tying run on base in the bottom of the inning on a one-out single by senior designated hitter Shane Wolf, but junior Michael Vitale (Bayonne, NJ / Bayonne) came in from the Montclair State bullpen and retired the next two Ithaca batters for the save.

Senior catcher Jeff Miller (Wyckoff, NJ / Ramapo) singled four times for Montclair State, including a run-scoring hit in the Red Hawks' three-run second. He scored the inning's final run on a passed ball. Rob Bowness (Sparta, NJ / Seton Hall Prep) added a sacrifice fly.

The teams combined for six first-inning runs: center fielder senior center fielder Michael Nunes (Hazlet, NJ / Raritan)scored on a bases-loaded balk (he scored two more runs in the game) and senior first baseman Lou Politan (Livingston, NJ / Livingston) added a run-scoring ground out in the Montclair State half of the inning. Ithaca responded with four runs, sparked by a two-run double by senior shortstop Josh Smith. Smith scored on a wild pitch and the Bombers picked up a run on a Red Hawk error.

The Red Hawks extended their lead to 6-4 in the fourth on a single by
Miller. Nunes went from first to third on the hit and scored when Miller
was tagged out in a rundown between first and second.

Wolf and Smith drew bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score.

The Bombers put runners on in the seventh and eighth but Montclair State used a seventh-inning pickoff and an eighth-inning double play to escape.

Junior righthander William Traverso (Verona, NJ / Verona) picked up the victory in relief. Sophomore second baseman Andrew Himmelfarb (Nyack, NY / Nyack) went three-for-three for Montclair State.