Big Inning Leads Baseball to Fourth Straight Win

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Men’s tennis, men’s golf

Freshman John Icaza was recently moved up into the leadoff spot for the Muhlenberg baseball team, a position in which he has hit most of his life.

John Icaza “I like the approach of hitting first, getting on base and stealing some bases,” he said. “I feel like I also bring some pop to the leadoff spot.”

Icaza provided plenty of pop in his fourth game hitting leadoff, nearly belting two home runs in one inning as the Mules came from behind to defeat Haverford, 12-10, for their fourth win in a row.

Muhlenberg (11-10, 4-2) trailed 5-1 after a sloppy first five innings that featured four errors and five walks by the pitching staff. The Mules weren’t doing much better at the plate, putting only one runner on base (who was promptly erased on a double play) in the second through fifth innings against a recent Centennial Conference pitcher of the week.

“Down 5-1, we just wanted to get some guys on and get a big hit to get things rolling,” said Icaza. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

Junior Danny Usewick drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, flipping the order back up to Icaza. On a 1-0 pitch, he cranked a middle-in fastball well over the fence in left for his first career home run.

“I knew right when I hit it that it was gone,” said Icaza (right). “I’ve been hitting everything right at people, so I guess I was due.”

Oddly, the last two times a Muhlenberg batter had hit a home run, he came to bat again later in the inning. Junior Kurt Johnson accomplished the feat against Penn State Berks, and senior Brett Rosen – who threw out two Fords attempting to steal – did it against Washington on Sunday.

Max Litvak It would happen a third time, as Icaza’s bomb ignited the whole lineup. After an out, the next eight batters reached base, with two consecutive bases-loaded walks tying the game. Rosen’s two-run single put Muhlenberg in the lead, and a single by Usewick made it 8-5 and brought Icaza to the plate for the second time.

After pulling the ball out of the park but inches foul, Icaza hit another bomb, this one to straightaway center in the deepest part of the park. It landed just short of the fence, and Icaza had his second extra-base hit of the inning, an RBI double that capped the eight-run frame.

But Muhlenberg wasn’t done with the scoring – or the long balls. Senior John Scuderi hit the first pitch of the top of the seventh for his second home run of the season. The next batter, senior Max Litvak, also hit the ball over the fence, but the leftfielder pulled the opposite-field shot back in, and Litvak (left) had to settle for a double.

The Mules led 11-6 after hitting in the seventh, with freshman Troy Elias keeping Haverford (10-11, 3-3) at bay. The right-hander struck out four in 3 2/3 innings of work to earn his first career win.

Junior Zach Hoffman pitched a scoreless eighth in his first appearance of the season, but things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth. The Fords scored two runs to close to within 12-10 and had the tying run in scoring position with one out. But junior Phillip Balseca got the final two outs on a strikeout and a soft liner to first, nailing down Muhlenberg’s latest win.

After starting out 0-2 in CC play, the Mules are suddenly in a tie for second place after beginning a stretch of six games in five days with a satisfying win.

“We’re definitely on a roll,” said Icaza. “The confidence is there. We’re hitting the ball a lot better, getting better swings, and we’re getting better pitching and fielding. We’re doing better all around.”
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