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COLLEGE BASEBALL Titans topple Tomcats



Published: Sat, April 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Westminster took the top spot in the PAC with a two-game sweep of Thiel.

NEW WILMINGTON -- Before Saturday's President's Athletic Conference baseball showdown, Westminster and Thiel were deadlocked for the top spot in the conference standings.

After five hours of action in the doubleheader, the Titans (15-5, 6-2) found themselves all alone on top of the PAC as a result of sweeping the Tomcats, 7-5 and 12-3.

"We executed extremely well today, especially in the second game," said Westminster coach Carmen Nocera. "Our kids executed, played hard, and when they do that, I expect good things to happen for us."

After ties at 1 and 3 in the first game, the Tomcats (13-14, 4-4) took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.

Then the Titans exploded for four runs to take the lead for good, 7-4.

The Titans had 12 hits, including doubles by Ricky Straw and Brian Andrews, and a triple by Brooks Leviere. Straw went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored.

"Hitting breeds hitting, winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing, and fortunately for us, right now we are hitting the ball pretty well," said Nocera. "As a result of that hitting, we are scoring runs and winning games and hopefully that trend will continue for us."

Strong pitching

The Titans were also treated to solid efforts on the mound by freshmen Scott Carney and Craig Hannon.

Although he was not credited with the win in game one, Carney surrendered the four runs on just three hits, walking five and striking out three. Working the final two frames, left-hander Tony Cunningham picked up the victory, allowing one unearned run while walking three and striking out one.

In the nightcap, Hannon worked six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits, walking three and fanning five.

"I just wanted to come out and throw strikes," said Hannon. "We have a good defense behind me, and with 12 runs on the board, that makes my job a whole lot easier."

Although he tired late in the game, Hannon was determined to go as long as possible.

"When the coach came out in the sixth inning, he asked me if I had anything [left] and I told him no, but I am finishing this inning," smiled Hannon. "Other than that, I am coming off a week's rest so I felt strong for most of the game. Fortunately for me in the sixth, I was able to dig down and find what I needed to finish the inning."

"Those two kids [Carney and Hannon] are forces," said Nocera. "They are only freshmen, and if they continue to work hard and improve, they are going to be something to be reckoned with the next three years. They are tough, hard-nosed kids and that is what helps them come in and pitch like they do at this point of their careers."

Strong hitting

Leading the Titans was Ed DeRose, who went 5-for-7 on the day with a run scored.

"I worked a lot with Coach [Larry] Cole in batting practice and I guess it is starting to pay off for me," said DeRose. "I have been seeing the ball well and today, I was hitting the ball good."

The leading hitters for the Titans in the second game were DeRose, 3-for-4 with one RBI; Don Kirkwood (Neshannock), 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Kevin Gesacion (Boardman) 2-for-3. Mark Francasio doubled and scored three times and Brooks LeViere finished the day 3-for-6 with a pair of triples and three runs scored.

"We bunted the ball four times in a row, forced them to make plays and that worked well for us today," explained Nocera. "I couldn't have asked for any better execution today and I think that is what broke the [second] game open for us. & quot;




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