NEW CASTLE, Del. – The Philadelphia University baseball team's magical run through the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament came to an abrupt end with a pair of losses to Felician University on Championship Saturday on Wilmington University's Wilson Field. The Rams were forced into the if-necessary game with a 9-2 setback and then fell 13-8 in a wild winner-take-all championship game.
Philadelphia, who reached the CACC Tournament's final day for the first time in program history, concluded the 2016 season with a 23-28 overall record. It was the Rams' first 23-win season since they picked up 25 victories in 1995.
Felician—the conference champion for the second time in three years—improves to 32-19 and will represent the CACC in the NCAA Tournament.
The Golden Falcons set 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second inning as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Felician scored four times with two outs, including a three-run home run off the bat of Andrew LaMura.
After both teams scored three runs in the fifth, Philadelphia—who had eight come-from-behind, walk-off, or extra-inning wins this season—went to work in the sixth to trim the deficit to 10-7. With two runners on base, Fernando Garza (Laredo, Texas/Alexander) drilled a three-run home run over the left-center field fence for his 200th career hit. Garza had 48 hits as a freshman at Texas A&M International and 152 at Philadelphia University.
Steven Wells (Yardley, Pa./The Hun School) closed the gap to three five batters later with a sacrifice fly.
In the seventh, Brandon Quaranta (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Arlington) stepped up with the bases loaded and hit into a fielder's choice that scored Andres Valbuena (Miami, Fla./Doral Academy) from third to bring the Rams within 10-8.
The Golden Falcons reestablished a five-run cushion by scoring three times in the eighth, taking advantage of three Ram errors.
Garza finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBIs, while Quaranta went 2-for-5 and knocked in two. Michael Melendez also had a two-hit game.
Matt Diesel had three of Felician's 11 hits and LaMura finished up with four RBIs.
Dean Loucka turned in five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out nine to get the win. Danny Naif went the last four and recorded the save.
David McTaggart (Wilmington, Del./St. Elizabeth) took the loss.
Trailing 3-0 after four innings, Garza got the Rams within one in the fifth, hitting a two-out homer to left with McTaggart—who led off the inning with a single—standing on second. Philadelphia kept the rally going with a Jeffrey Briggs triple and back-to-back walks by Quaranta and Melendez. The Rams would leave the bases loaded as Dan Klusman grounded out to short to end the inning.
Felician increased its advantage to 6-2 with a three-run seventh, including a Diesel two-out single. The Golden Falcons tacked out three more runs in the last of the eight.
Garza, Quaranta, and McTaggart all posted two hits for Philadelphia. Six Felician hitters had a multi-hit game, led by three hits from Bruce Strickland.
Matt Blandino earned the win with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, while Jonathan Gottschall (Reading, Pa./Governor Mifflin) took the loss.