By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you are fan of college baseball, then Wednesday was your kind of day.
Two local Division III squads put together comebacks for the ages.
Ursinus College, located in Collegeville, was visiting Arcadia and trailing 12-0 after three innings. That’s when things got crazy. The Bears would score 19 runs in the 4th inning. That’s 1-9. They pounded out 13 hits in the frame.
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They would then turn around and add 6 more runs in the 5th inning. They would win the game, which was called because of darkness after 6 innings, 25-14. Good luck picking out just one offensive hero in this one, but a special tip of the cap probably has to go to sophomore first baseman Chris Jablonski. He finished the game 4-5 with 5 RBI. He hit a grand slam in that 19-run fourth. That incredible inning was also very good for freshman left fielder Jose Colon, as he tied an NCAA record with three hits in it.
By the way, the 19 runs and 13 hits in an inning are the second highest totals in Centennial Conference history.
Head coach Stan Exeter says it still hasn’t really sunk in what his team put together.
“No,” Exeter tells KYW Newsradio. “I don’t know if it will ever. I was just an innocent bystander throughout that inning. Just watching them come to bat, one after another.”
What was the dugout like during that 19 run frame?
“It was more surreal than crazy,” Exeter says. “Everyone looking at each other like, ‘What is happening?'”
Exeter says he’s never been a part of a comeback like that.
“Not that one-inning deal,” Exeter says. “I’ve been in games where you chipped away and came back from eight, nine runs down, but never 12 and then put a 19-spot up in one inning. We scored 25 runs in two innings. That’s unheard of. Never seen it.”
The win improved Ursinus to 15-15 on the season.
Now Eastern University, located in St. Davids, had a more “traditional” incredible comeback against Lebanon Valley College.
The Eagles trailed Lebanon Valley College at home 17-3 heading into the bottom of the 5th.
“I wasn’t overly angry at that point,” Eastern head coach Jed Morris tells KYW Newsradio. “I was a little frustrated with our pitching staff. We had more or less given away those runs with walks and hit by pitches and stuff like that. We just couldn’t put it together on the mound. I was actually not that angry with our overall play, because our hitters had shown life earlier in the game. They had put together three runs and they’d hit the ball hard. So I did feel good that we were going to score some more runs.”
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The Eagles would indeed score twice in the fifth, and add runs in every inning after that. Morris says a big key to the comeback was the job senior right-hander Barry Jost did on the mound, pitching three strong innings in relief, keeping Lebanon Valley at bay while the Eagles got the bats cooking.
Eastern had made it close, but they still trailed 18-15 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Luckily they still had one more crooked number in their back pocket. After plating two runs to pull to within one, they loaded the bases with one out. Sophomore first baseman Joe Grato ended the wild comeback with your run-of-the-mill, walk-off grand slam.
“At first, I didn’t think he got it,” Morris says. “We did have a little bit of wind blowing out. So at first I was thinking we’re at least going to get a sac fly out of this thing and if it happens to get over (the outfielder’s) head, obviously we’re going to take this game. But the excitement of once it went over the fence, I just kind of got the chills a little bit. There was a lot of, I guess you could say demons, that were released. We’ve had a tough year (6-24). There was just a lot of excitement. Something for our team to get really excited about.”
Both teams will look to carry their momentum into games on Friday. Ursinus will host Swarthmore, while Eastern visits Manhattanville College.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.