Pitching meltdown ends Lions’ win streak

A 5-0 first inning deficit was too much for even the high-powered lineup of the Lions’ baseball team to recover from on Friday, as they suffered a 13-8 loss to Franklin & Marshall College.

The win snapped the Lions’ five-game winning streak and dropped their overall record for the season to 14-3.

Usually dependable senior pitcher Vincent Petrillo surrendered five runs before recording the first three outs of the game and gave up three more before he was pulled two outs into the third inning.

“You can’t start a game at 3 o’clock and let them have five runs by 3:15,” head coach Rick Dell said.

When senior pitcher Brad Downs yielded four runs between the third and fourth innings in relief of Petrillo, the Lions found themselves trailing 12-2 in the fourth inning.

“We let them have another big inning later and that kind of hurt us by digging the hole deeper,” Dell said.

Having come back from a 7-1 first-inning deficit earlier for a win against St. Joseph’s earlier in the season, the Lions did assemble somewhat of a comeback bid but fell short of getting themselves back within striking distance.

Junior designated hitter Richard Kropp tallied a 2-for-5 day with three RBIs at the plate and sophomore third baseman Blake Bullis went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, adding his fourth home run of the year on a solo shot in the second inning.

The College tacked on four runs in the eighth inning to move within five but had their comeback hopes silenced in the ninth by a scoreless relief inning from freshman pitcher Dan Tischler.

Lions’ pitchers surrendered the 13 runs on an uncharacteristic 17 hits and six walks. Poor pitching could be an alarming sign for the College.

“I have some concerns with pitching in general,” Dell said. “We have some people who have been inconsistent and some people who have been injured. One thing you want with your pitchers is to know what you’re going to get out of them. That’s how you decide who to make them up against.”

Those concerns could deepen as the College enters the much tougher part of the schedule with conference play next week.

“As you head into conference week, you really want to know how you match up against other teams. You can’t let other teams get out ahead early like (Friday) and survive in our conference.”

Petrillo finished his day allowing eight runs, five of them earned, on seven hits in 2-2/3 innings and falls to 3-1 on the year. Downs was marked up for four unearned runs on eight hits in 4-1/3 innings.

Seven of the Diplomats’ 13 runs were unearned on four errors from a sloppy Lions’ team in the field. Despite the poor fielding, however, Dell remains more concerned about the pitching.

“I think we could have pitched better,” he said. “You’re going to make errors. There’s no question about that, but I thought what we really needed was more missed bats.”

Last Tuesday, freshman pitcher Bob Buskett pitched his way to his first career collegiate victory, a 10-5 win, over Elizabethtown College, giving up two unearned runs on five hits in five innings.

The Lions combined for 20 hits, scoring all 10 runs in five straight innings from the second to the sixth. Bullis chalked up a 3-for-5 day with three RBIs and added another home run. Kropp, sophomore second baseman Andrew Cosgrove and freshman first baseman Bill Kropp each connected for three hits.

Monday’s game against John Hopkins University was rained out and rescheduled for April 11 at 3:30 p.m.

The College will get its most important test of the season thus far when it begins conference play on Friday at 3 p.m. at Rutgers University