April 30 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Sophomore catcher T.J. Zarewicz (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) belted a two-run home run to cap off a seven-run fifth inning, which the Bethany College baseball team used to erase a six-run deficit and claim a 7-6 game one victory over visiting Westminster Friday at sun-splashed Bethany Park.
The Bison (19-15, 5-10) could not maintain the momentum however, as the Titans (12-21, 6-9) held off another BC rally in the nightcap to come away with a 7-5 win for their second win in the three-game series that started last Friday with a 10-6 Westminster triumph in New Wilmington.
The Titans didn’t have a hit in the first two innings of the opener against Bethany starter Zach Kozlowski (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin), but they reached the freshman right-hander for four runs in the third frame, with the big blow being a two-run double by SS Steve Perotta. Westminster would tack on two more runs in the top of the fifth to hold a commanding 6-0 advantage.
Bethany managed at least one hit in each of the first four innings off Titan starter Justin Presjnar, but couldn’t string enough hits together to dent the scoreboard. The clutch hits finally came in waves in the fifth. A Titan error with one out helped BC load the bases and their first run trotted home on a sacrifice fly by freshman 3B Brad Kubis (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell). After an infield single loaded the bases again, senior DH Chris Leasure (Stafford, Ohio/Monroe Central) flared a double down the right-field line to score two, which was followed by a two-run single back up the middle by junior RF Mike Pegg (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) to bring the Green and White within a run at 6-5.
That brought up Zarewicz, who hammered a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall to give Bethany a 7-6 lead. It was Zarewicz’s third home run of the season and second in as many games.
The Bison would have to hold off a Titan rally in the seventh for the win. Following a leadoff single against Kubis, a fly out and fielder’s choice produced two outs, but another single put the tying run in scoring position. The Bison closer would extinguish the threat by inducing a fly out to right for the final out and his 11th save of the season. It preserved the win for junior Mike Kochman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Serra Catholic),who improved to 2-3 after throwing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Zarewicz and Pegg led the way at the plate with two hits and two RBIs each, while junior 2B Eric Fudala (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) also had two hits and scored a run.
Game two saw Bethany take a 1-0 lead in the second when a run scored on a double play. Westminster came back with a run in the third and two in the fourth to grab a 3-1 lead, which they didn’t hold for long. In the bottom of the inning, Fudala drew a two-out walk and Leasure jacked a two-run homer to left-center to tie the score at 3-3.
Already Bethany’s career home run record holder with 26, Friday’s bomb was the 10th of the year for Leasure, which now gives him the single-season home run mark that was set by J.B. Burge, who hit nine in 1996.
This time, the Titans had an answer, as they plated three runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth to build a 7-3 cushion. The Bison attempted another comeback, as they scored one in the sixth on a fielder’s choice by Pegg and mounted a serious threat in the seventh. With two outs and two on, Kubis stroked a double to bring in one and put runners on second and third. But after a pitching change, the Titans recorded the final out on a sharply hit grounder to second to salvage the split and take the series.
Bethany was limited to seven hits in the second game, with Leasure and Kubis collecting two each. Taking the loss on the hill was sophomore starter Zach Grayson (McKeesport, Pa./South Allegheny), who dropped to 5-2.
Now assured of their first winning season since going 23-17 in 2005, the Bison will have a week off before playing Grove City in their final three games of the regular season. Bethany will host the Wolverines Friday at 3 p.m. for Senior Day and then travel to GCC for a doubleheader Saturday. BC (5-10 in PAC play) will need to win at least two of those three games to keep their hopes alive for a PAC Tournament berth, as they currently sit behind Westminster (6-9) and Waynesburg (5-9) in the race for the fourth and final tourney spot, but both of those teams hold tiebreakers over Bethany by virtue of series wins during the season.