HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Ursinus College baseball team opened the Centennial Conference Championship with a heartbreaking loss at Haverford, which walked off with a 5-4 nail-biter on a Bears error with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Making their first postseason appearance since 2011, the Bears packed plenty of drama and tension into return foray into May baseball. In a contest that featured a plethora of late swings and dramatic shifts in win probability, third-seeded Ursinus did all of its scoring in the fourth before the second-seeded Fords chipped away, tying the game in the eighth prior to escaping a tenth-inning jam and eking out a thrilling result on an ill-timed miscue.
Senior Kieran Geyer hit a three-run homer for the Bears (23-15), who led 4-1 but were unable to score again. Ursinus will meet Gettysburg, which lost 13-4 to top seed Johns Hopkins, in an elimination contest at 9 a.m. Saturday in Baltimore. The Fords will take on the fourth-ranked Blue Jays at 12:30 p.m. for a spot in the championship series.
Thursday marked the seventh extra-inning contest in CC championship history, and the first ever in which the Bears were involved. This one was full of twists and turns, clutch plays and misplays ultimately coming to the forefront.
Haverford dented the scoreboard first on Ben Furlong's solo home run – his ninth of the season – in the second, but a Fords error paved the way for a Bears outburst in the fourth.
Fords starter Tom Phillips, who came in with 14 strikeouts on the season, whiffed four of the first eight hitters he faced and retired the first two in the fourth, but his own miscue gifted Ursinus an opening. Phillips came off the mound to field a chopper by freshman Alex Mumme, but his throw sailed high and wide of the bag to allow Mumme to go to second. Sophomore Carter Usowski made Haverford pay, grounding a 3-0 pitch through a vacant shortstop hole to plate Mumme with the tying run.
Following a walk to senior Austin Kurey, Geyer belted a 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-center to stun the home crowd and hand Ursinus a three-run lead. Geyer's blast was the third of his career and the first playoff home run for the Bears since Brandon Sullivan's in 2011.
Senior Vincent Terry short-circuited a Haverford rally in the bottom of the frame, gunning out Spencer Sohmer at second; it was the first time Sohmer had been caught stealing in 19 attempts.
Haverford jumped back into contention in the sixth, as Sohmer carried a two-run shot off the scoreboard in right to trim the Bears' advantage to 4-3. Sam Partee singled and advanced to second on an error with one out, but Regensburg froze Furlong and got Harrison Burns to pop out to right to end the threat. The left-hander marooned the tying run on second again in the seventh, striking out Owen Plambeck and inducing a weak fly ball from Ethan Lee-Tyson.
The Fords cracked Regensburg in the eighth. Back-to-back singles by Sohmer and Partee set the table for Furlong, who laced a game-tying single into right center to chase Regensburg. Junior Matt Radwanski came up big in relief, getting the next two outs to keep Haverford from going in front.
Matt Goss nearly won it for the Fords in the ninth, but his drive to straightaway center was caught at the wall by Kozak.
Given new life, Ursinus came up empty on a golden opportunity to break the game open in the 10th. Terry laid down a perfect bunt to lead off the inning, and junior Travis Kozak's drag bunt forced an errant throw from John Masella to put runners on the corners with nobody out. But the Fords' John Masella somehow wriggled out unscathed – a bunt attempt was caught in foul ground, senior Alex Campbell lined out to center and, after Mumme was hit by a pitch, Karp dove to his left to rob Usowski of a go-ahead hit.
Radwanski nearly matched Masella with a Houdini act of his own. A one-out walk to Partee and a base hit by Furlong had the Fords threatening, and Burns loaded the bases with a perfectly-placed dribbler to second. Radwanski, however, got Karp to pop out on the infield for the second out.
The next batter, Nick Perez, hit a grounder to shortstop. Usowski bobbled it initially, but recovered in time to flip to Geyer at second. The umpire, however, ruled that Geyer's foot came off the bag, giving Haverford a walk-off win.
Furlong finished 3-for-5 for the Fords, while Sohmer was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Karp, Partee, and Lee-Tyson all had two hits.
Geyer went 2-for-4 with a run and three RBI, Mumme landed 2-for-4 with a run, and Kozak and Terry produced two hits apiece. The two knocks gave Kozak 50 for the season; he and Usowski are the first pair of Ursinus teammates since 2001 to reach that number in the same year.
Regensburg worked 7.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on ten hits. He struck out four and walked one in becoming the fourth pitcher in program history to reach 200 career innings. Radwanski (1-3) conceded three hits and the one unearned run in 2.1 frames.
Despite three errors, the Bears made a couple sparkling defensive plays. Kozak robbed the Fords of a run in the first, making a shoestring catch and throwing to second to double off Lee-Tyson, who had singled to lead off the frame and taken second on a groundout to first. Freshman Dom Fiorentino, meanwhile, made a leaping grab before crashing into the wall in right to end the fifth.
Kieran Geyer gives the Bears a 4-1 lead with an opposite-field homer in the opening round of the CC Championship at Haverford (5/4)