BALTIMORE, Md. – Two down, two to go – the Ursinus College baseball team is back in the Centennial Conference championship.
The Bears, who got home runs from seniors Kieran Geyer and Austin Kurey, built a late 5-0 lead and survived a furious ninth-inning rally by Haverford to advance to their first league championship series since 2007 with a hard-earned 6-4 rollercoaster ride against the defending CC champs.
Two thrilling wins under its belt, Ursinus (25-15) now needs to repeat the feat to capture its fourth conference crown and first since 2000 and snag the CC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears will have to do it against host Johns Hopkins, which extended its winning streak to 18 games with a 4-1 victory over the Fords earlier in the day. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m.; if Ursinus wins, a winner-take-all Game 7 will begin 30 minutes after the completion of Game 6.
The Bears' bats woke up late, but it was sophomore David Drea's arm that made sure it wasn't too late. Just a few hours after picking up the win with three strong relief innings against Gettysburg, the southpaw outlasted Haverford's Dylan Livingston in a pitchers' duel that ratcheted up the playoff intensity with every passing zero.
Ursinus had several chances in the early going, twice stranding a leadoff double as Livingston managed to work his way out of trouble. The Fords put a runner on second three times, including men on first and second with one down in the sixth, but Drea induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Nick Perez to escape the threat.
The Bears broke loose in the seventh on Geyer's two-out solo shot; it was Geyer's second home run of the tournament, the first also coming against Haverford on Thursday. After a double by senior CJ Diana and an infield hit from classmate Vincent Terry, junior Travis Kozak punched an RBI single through the left side to make it 2-0.
Ursinus tacked on three more in the eighth, courtesy of run-scoring singles by Geyer and Terry and a Fords error. Haverford got two back in the bottom half on solo home runs by Ben Furlong and Owen Plambeck and, after Kurey's solo blast in the top of the ninth, the drama reached a crescendo.
A base hit, an error, and a hit batsmen loaded the bases with no outs and brought the tying run to the plate. After a fly-out, Ursinus walked in a run, and a sacrifice fly cut the margin to 6-4 and put the tying run at second. But junior Matt Radwanski got Will Karp to fly out to left, booking the Bears' spot in the title match.
Terry finished 4-for-4 with an RBI, making him 7-for-8 on the day. Geyer and Kurey each went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a homer.
Senior Alex Campbell had two hits in the nightcap, giving him an even 100 for his career. He joins Diana and Kurey as this season's new 100-hit club members.
Drea (4-2) worked around six hits and five walks to pitch 6.1 scoreless innings in the most critical start of his career.