Miracle Comeback Caps Perfect Spring Break for Swarthmore Baseball
CHANDLER, Ariz. - Trailing 8-2 and down to its final out, the Swarthmore College baseball team (10-2) completed a comeback for the ages, scoring 11 runs on four homers to stun Pitt-Bradford 13-8 in the second game of a doubleheader from Chandler, Arizona on Friday afternoon. The Garnet won the first game of the doubleheader by a score of 6-3, completing a perfect 8-0 Spring Break trip and continuing one of the best starts in program history.
To say that the final inning of the second game was unbelievable hardly does it justice. Down to its final strike and with no one on base, the Garnet rattled off eight hits -- including home runs from junior Sean Bryant, senior Miles Santo, sophomore Nicko Burnett and senior Sam Menzin -- and scored 11 runs to cap one of the most improbable comebacks in the 104-year history of Swarthmore baseball.
Following strikeouts by Burnett and freshman Scoop Ruxin to start the inning, the rally started when seniors Mike Cameron and Sam Menzin each drew a walks off Pitt-Bradford relief pitcher Zac Roller to put two runners on base. Following a wild pitch, junior Rory McTear drove both runners home on a double to left-center, cutting the deficit to 8-4. Next up, Sean Bryant hit a monster home run that cleared the left-field scoreboard, bringing home McTear and making it an 8-6 contest.
With all of the momentum at its back and the dugout in hysterics, the Garnet continued its rally. Freshman Danny McMahon doubled to centerfield in the next at-bat to bring the tying run to the plate. With two strikes against him and the game on the line, Santo crushed a
home run to left field, knotting the score at 8-8 and sending the Garnet dugout onto the field.
Following a pitching change, the hit parade continued when sophomore Cody Ruben singled down the left-field line to put the go-ahead run on first base. Coming to the plate for the second time in the inning, Burnett hit a soaring fly ball to left field that the Pitt-Bradford outfielder initially appeared to have a track on, only to see it clear the fence by less than a foot, giving Swarthmore a 10-8 lead and once again bringing the jubilant Garnet bench onto the field.
The Garnet offense was still not finished. Ruxin singled to center and freshman Gregory Cox walked to put two more runners on before Menzin belted a home run over the right-field fence to make it a 13-8 game. The inning final came to an end two batters later when Bryant flied out to left.
With the lead, senior Zach Weiner pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to complete the unbelievable win.
Freshman Luke Alventosa worked 2.2 scoreless innings to earn his first collegiate win.
To add to the improbability of the final inning, the home runs by Bryant and Menzin were the first of their careers.
In the first game, three Garnet batters hit solo home runs to pace the offense; Burnett's shot in the third inning broke a 1-1 tie, senior catcher Mike Waterhouse homered in the fifth, and senior second baseman Anthony Montalbano's sixth-inning home run provided the Garnet with insurance in what was then a 4-3 game. Junior right fielder Tim Kwilos contributed an RBI single in the seventh, and both of Swarthmore's other runs came via throwing errors.
Senior starter Kyle Crawford threw a solid six innings for the win, allowing three runs on four hits and striking out six. Junior Sean Mangus pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his third save of the young season.
The team travels home and plays at PSU-Brandywine on Sunday.