Baseball qualifies for CACC Tournament with sweep at Concordia (N.Y.)

Baseball qualifies for CACC Tournament with sweep at Concordia (N.Y.)

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – For the first time since the 2013 season, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament field will include the Philadelphia University baseball team as the Rams earned a playoff spot with a sweep of CACC opponent Concordia (N.Y.) on the final day of the regular season Wednesday. The Rams clinched the spot with a 13-9 10-inning game one win and locked up a home game with a 2-1 victory in the nightcap.

Philadelphia ends the regular season with an overall record of 20-26 and a conference mark of 11-9. The Rams have won 20 games for the 14th time in program history, the first since a 22-win season in 2008.

The Rams will be the No. 4 seed for the CACC Tournament and host No. 5 Nyack in the opening round on Saturday, May 7 at 2 p.m. on Alumni Field. In the regular season, the teams split their doubleheader on March 19 in Philadelphia with the Warriors winning the opener 5-2 and the Rams bouncing back with an 8-1 triumph.

Philadelphia appeared to have game one in its control after scoring seven times in the eighth inning to extend its lead to 9-1.

The Rams teed off on the Clippers' Peter Byrnes, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs. Fernando Garza (Laredo, Texas/Alexander) got the home run parade started with a grand slam to left-center field to put the Rams up 7-1. Jeffrey Briggs (Moorestown, N.J./Moorestown) and Brandon Quaranta (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Arlington) followed the Garza homer with solo home runs of their own to push the gap to eight.

Concordia (12-28, 9-11 CACC) didn't fold, but instead came right back with eight runs, capped by a Vincent Capone-Froio three-run double with two outs, to tie the score at nine. Brian Bilello had a two-RBI double and Giorgio Palmiero knocked in two runs with a single.

After a scoreless ninth inning, Philadelphia crossed the plate four times in the tenth to reclaim the lead (13-9). With Andres Valbuena (Miami, Fla./Doral Academy) at third base on a lead-off single and two-base error, Michael Treglia (Danbury, Conn./Danbury) delivered the eventual game-winning run with a single to left field.

Michael Melendez (Lansdale, Pa./Christopher Dock) doubled the lead with a one-out RBI double to left, his lone hit of the game. Steven Wells (Yardley, Pa./The Hun School) tacked on two additional insurance runs with a two-out base hit.

Quaranta worked around a one-out Bilello double to keep the Clippers off the board and earn the win. He went 2.1 innings and struck out one hitter.

Led by four hits from Garza, the Rams outslugged the Clippers 18-14. Wells and Valbuena each added three hits in five at-bats. Bilello went 4-for-4 to lead Concordia.

Garza threw the first 5.1 innings for the Rams, striking out eight while giving up just one run on seven hits.

John Wall allowed all four 10th-inning runs to take the loss. Starter Mitchell Hillert fanned nine in 7.1 innings.

The nightcap wasn't decided until the ninth when Wells, facing a 3-2 count with two outs and Melendez on first, drove a Dylan Lawrence pitch over the right-center field fence for a two-run home run to put Philadelphia ahead 2-1.

Casey O'Donnell (Horsham, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) allowed just a one-out walk in the last of the ninth to secure the home date with Nyack. O'Donnell went the final two innings, fanning one and not giving up a hit to get the win.

Jonathan Gottschall (Reading, Pa./Governor Mifflin) gave the Rams a strong start, going seven innings, striking out six and giving up just one run—a Bilello solo homer in the first.

Lawrence was tagged with the complete-game loss despite nine strikeouts and surrendering five hits.

Matthew McGee (Forrest Hill, Md./John Carroll), David McTaggart (Wilmington, Del./St. Elizabeth), Garza, and Briggs all had a hit for Philadelphia.