Staying alive

Playoff possibility renewed for Jackets in sweep of Chatham

Coming into this past Saturday’s double header against Chatham, the baseball team hadn’t swept a Presidents’ Athletic Conference doubleheader all season.

That came to an end in Munhall, as the Yellow Jackets (9-19, 5-9) won their both games 13-3 and 4-3 respectively over the Cougars. [6-20, 0-14].

The Cougars are in their first season as members of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference and have yet to win a conference game. Waynesburg head coach Mike Humiston didn’t want his team to be the first to fall to Chatham.

“They hadn’t beat anybody in conference,” Humiston said. “I think that was some of the motivation. As a team, we didn’t want to be the first team that Chatham had beaten.”

Both games featured excellent pitching performances.

Junior Jonny Kutchman improved to 2-2 on the season, allowing three runs— one earned—on eight hits, while walking none and striking out seven in six innings. Junior Ty Wickline closed things out with a scoreless seventh inning.

Kutchman pitched five scoreless frames after giving up three runs in the first. The first game was called after the seventh, as the Jackets put the mercy rule in effect with a six-run sixth inning.

Waynesburg had a total 14 hits in the first game and sophomore catcher John Przybylinski had four of those hits along with two RBI. Junior second baseman Tyler Reis went 3-5 with four RBI. The Jacket offense, which ranks seventh of 10 PAC teams in runs scored, was able to explode offensively. Despite the modest statistics, Humiston has seen how productive the offense can be.

“I think we are a good hitting team,” Huminston said. “But I think guys think too much [instead of] reacting to pitches and things like that.”

For Chatham, sophomore Connor Paul took the loss to fall to 1-5. Paul lasted just 1 and 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two.

In the second game, the Cougars drew first blood in the bottom of the second, when sophomore catcher Michael Roussey drove home two runs with a single. It would remain 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Waynesburg freshman catcher Chris Lee drew a walk to score junior centerfielder Mitch Nordstrom and cut Chatham’s lead in half.

The Cougars would get that run back in the bottom half of the inning, when sophomore third baseman Justin Silvious grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with nobody out, scoring sophomore outfielder Drew Brannon. In the sixth inning, the Jackets got a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. It started when Reis drew the Jackets’ second bases loaded walk of the game, scoring junior designated hitter Andrew Wuenstel. One batter later, senior outfielder Tyler Godwin drove home Nordstrom and junior right fielder Brenden Kohan with a single to make it 4-3.

Over the next four innings, freshman Zach Straub, junior Nate Gearhart and freshman Tyler Srbinovich held the Cougars scoreless. Srbinovich picked up his third save of the season, while sophomore Colton Uzzell got the win to improve to 3-1 after allowing one earned run on one hit while walking none and striking out four over two innings in relief of Lolley who received a no-decision after allowing two earned runs on four hits while walking two and striking out two. For Chatham, junior Brett Vallorani fell to 1-1 after pitching four innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out two over four innings in relief of freshman starter Austin Andonisio. He threw 4 and 2/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits while walking seven and striking out five.

Although the Jackets won both games, Humiston saw the first game as the best performance of the day.

“The first game was better than the second game,” Humiston said. “We hit pretty well in the first game, we were able to score quite a few runs and then the bats kind of went a little bit but we were able to get four runs across.”

The Jackets have two more series left on the season. After traveling to Thiel April 28, Waynesburg comes home to finish the season. Thiel then travels to Waynesburg to finish the season against Grove City, May 5, after the semester ends.

Although a playoff spot is a long shot, with Waynesburg three games back of St. Vincent for the fourth and final seed as of this publication date, Humiston saw the sweep as a confidence-booster as the year draws to a close.

“It’s all good when you win a double header first one of the year, pointing it in the right direction in a way,” Humiston said.