ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Ursinus College baseball team's bats were held in check until the Bears uncorked a huge five-run eighth inning and held on in the ninth to down Muhlenberg, 6-4, in Centennial Conference action.
Ursinus (15-13, 5-6) found itself in a fast-paced pitchers' duel with the conference's hottest team, which had won four in a row entering the contest. The Bears were trailing 3-1 entering the top of the eighth until the bats came to life.
Junior Alex Mumme began the eighth with a single down the left-field line. Senior Carter Usowski then doubled down the left-field line. A foul pop fly by freshman Jon Moldoff to the first baseman scored Mumme from third. Sophomore Jerry Scavone tied the game, 3-3, when he drove a double to left, scoring Usowski.
To give the Bears their first lead of the game, sophomore Tom Jacobs delivered the biggest hit of the inning when he powered a two-run home run off the first pitch from new Muhlenberg reliever Isaac Spiegel. It was his second career homer, continuing his streak of hot hitting. He picked up two hits with two RBI and a run. The catcher has multiple hits six of his last seven starts.
After Jacobs' blast, sophomore Eric Gross singled in classmate Will Peiffer to go up 6-3. Peiffer was beaned and stole second to get in scoring position. The flurry of hits forced Spiegel out of the game without recording an out.
Ursinus received outstanding pitching from sophomore pitcher Nolan Graber (1-1) in his second start of the season, his first since toeing the rubber in the season opener on March 10. Graber, who has been battling injury, looked more like last year's Centennial Conference rookie of the year as he settled in nicely to pitch eight innings of three-run ball on 10 hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He overcame a rough third inning where he allowed his only three runs. The righty displayed great command and pitched to contact efficiently in his first start in over a month.
Peiffer came in to pitch the final inning and worked out of his own bases-loaded, no-out jam to earn his second save of the season. It wasn't easy as he surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly but did his best to hold on to the cushion. He recorded another fly out and fanned a Mule hitter with runners on first and third to end the game.
Poppert worked 7 1/3 innings allowing four runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out three.
Muhlenberg (16-13, 6-5) scored the game's first three runs in the third inning courtesy of four doubles in the frame.
It took the Bears until the sixth to put a run on the board. Junior Dom Fiorentino hit his second double of the game to begin the stanza. He moved up to third on a wild pitch before Mumme singled him homeMumme went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
At the top of the order, Fiorentino ripped three extra-base hits (a triple and two doubles). His triple to deep center in the third gave him ten for the season which is tied for the most in Division III.
Jacobs did work behind the plate as well as with the bat. He threw out his 14th potential base stealer of the season in the fourth inning.
Each team registered a dozen hits. Muhlenberg leadoff hitter John Serruto went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and RBI to lead the Mules. Four other Mules collected two hits.
The Bears picked up their fifth conference win, which matches last year's overall total, through just 11 games played.
Ursinus looks for the sweep of Muhlenberg Thursday at Thomas Field.