W&J Captures 2013 PAC Baseball Championship; Earns NCAA Automatic Bid
WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Top-seeded Washington & Jefferson claimed its ninth Presidents' Athletic Conference Baseball Championship after defeating third-seeded Thomas More 9-3 on Saturday at Ross Memorial Park. The tournament title was the Presidents' first since 2009.
W&J (30-11) earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament and finds out its regional site on Monday at 10:00 am (brackets to be released on NCAA.com). The Presidents, winners of 11-straight games, earn a spot in the national tournament field for the fourth time (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013) under 11th-year Head Coach Jeff Mountain, who celebrated his 300th career victory one day after his 35th birthday. Mountain has been the head coach for five of the Presidents' nine PAC baseball titles.
The Presidents, who outscored three opponents in tournament play by a 33-7 margin and only trailed for two of the 27 total innings, got off to a quick start with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. After the first three runners reached base, junior third baseman Kyle McLain (East Amherst, N.Y./Canisius) beat out a potential, inning-ending double play to plate senior second baseman Scott Liller (Moon Twp., Pa./Moon). Junior designated hitter D.J. Michalski (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan), who ranks 19th in NCAA Division III in on-base percentage, then scored on a wild pitch, while McLain slid home safely on junior first baseman Tyler Schultz's (Strongsville, Ohio/Strongsville) single.
Junior right fielder Josh Staniscia (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) ripped a two-out, two-run triple for a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second. The 13th triple of his career set a new school record. Staniscia attempted to turn the triple into an inside-the-park home run, but was tagged out by TMC catcher Brad Popham.
The Saints (29-14), who will now hope to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, scored twice in the third and once more in the fourth to narrow the deficit to 5-3.
Michalski, who reached base safely four times, raised the lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out single that scored freshman shortstop Michael Ruffing (Brunswick, Ohio/St. Ignatius). McLain roped a run-scoring, book-rule double in the seventh for a four-run advantage, while Staniscia capped the scoring with a single to score Michalski in the eighth.
Sophomore right hander Tyler Dean (Valencia, Pa./Mars Area) worked six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits (3 strikeouts) to earn the victory on the mound. Junior right-hander Mike Vizzini (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) tossed three innings of scoreless relief to record his third save of the year.
Four different Presidents had multi-hit games led by junior catcher Ronny Peirish's (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) 3-for-5 day at the plate (two doubles). Staniscia drove in three runs, while Liller had two hits and scored twice.
The 30 victories rank seventh in school history, all of which have come since 2005. W&J also finished the season with a perfect 19-0 home record at Ross Memorial Park.