Hoffman, Tomko lead offensive attack as Gannon posts eight runs in final two frames

Anything Terry Carson can do, Michael Tomko can do better.

Six days after Carson, a redshirt freshman, knocked in the game-winning run in the Gannon University baseball team’s 7-6 victory over Indiana (Pa.) University, Tomko’s two-out, two-run double closed the book on a furious 10-9 come-from-behind win against Lock Haven University Saturday.

The 6-foot-3, 195 pound sophomore outfielder was an important cog in the 11-15 Knights’ offensive wheel as he was one of four players who ended the contest with multiple hits after smacking two doubles.

“Mike has an unbelievable amount of power,” coach Nate Cocolin said. “He overpowers the game a lot of times. He’s so big and strong that when he hits it on the barrel, good things are going to happen.”

Gannon was able to take the first game of the doubleheader 6-3.

“Saturday was the best that we hit the ball for a single day all season,” Cocolin said. “That comeback was dramatic – it took a lot of heart and toughness to come back the way we did.”

Junior pitcher Mark Carlozzi said the wins will have an enormous effect on the Knights’ morale.

“We were ecstatic,” he said. “This was the first comeback where we were down by a lot. We had guys who were able to get hits and come through for us. The talent is there.”

The Knights were able to rally for eight runs in the final two innings behind the strength of senior Kolten Hoffman and junior Evan Baglieri.

Baglieri went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate while scoring each time on the base paths as Hoffman drove in four runs on two hits. Hoffman is second on the Knights with a .300 average while leading Gannon in doubles and on-base percentage.

“Kolten has made a lot of loud outs,” Cocolin said. “If you look at the batting average it’s not the most impressive but he’s made a lot of outs that could’ve been hits.”

After scoring two runs through the first five innings, the Gannon bats woke up as the Knights were able to rough up Lock Haven’s starter, Jordan Yohn, after his pitch count reached triple digits.

“We got into their bullpen and there wasn’t a whole lot left there,” Cocolin said. “I definitely thought we were set up in a way to beat them. I always believe we have a chance.”

The win against Lock Haven marked the third time this season Gannon has been down or tied in the fourth inning and has come back victorious. Each win was in the Knights’ final at bat.

“We have a lot of practice at playing from behind in the last couple of years,” said Cocolin, referring to the team’s 50-107 record since his first season in 2008. “It’s not an unfamiliar thing, but the difference with this team and ones in the past, is that everyone would have the here-we-go-again attitude.”

After sweeping the home series against the Bald Eagles, the road trip to Lock Haven would prove to be unkind for the Knights as they lost both games of the doubleheader.

Despite being down one run early, the Bald Eagles scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to quickly reverse any momentum Gannon had. “Sunday there were times we needed hits and couldn’t get them,” Cocolin said. “That’s just the nature of the game. We just didn’t get the big hits we needed.”

Another late comeback attempt by the Knights fell flat as Gannon tallied more strikeouts than hits.

“After losing a close one the first game, you always wonder how everyone is going to come back and react to it,” Cocolin said.

The Knights didn’t bounce back well. Gannon lost the second game 10-0 after the Bald Eagles used a five-run fifth inning to put the game out of reach. The loss served as Carlozzi’s first of the year as he gave up six-earned runs on nine hits over four innings.

“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Carlozzi said. “I felt like I was making good pitches but they were making timely hits and scoring runs when they needed to.”

The pitching performances weren’t the only things hampering the Knights, as the bats provided little offensive support throughout the doubleheader. Gannon batted only .231 on Sunday.

“In the second game they hit like crazy,” Cocolin said. “We couldn’t do anything offensively. It was almost like we were a little shell shocked for some reason.”

According to Cocolin, the day and night difference of the weekend’s doubleheaders highlight a shortcoming of the Knights this season.

“One thing that makes you a really good team is consistency,” he said. “Right now, we have our good days that are really good and we have our bad days that are very bad. It’s frustrating. We need an entire unit of 27 guys to have that killer instinct and put teams away.”

Carlozzi said that if Gannon – which currently is tied for fourth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West division – wants to see the postseason, it can’t settle for winning half of its games.

“Splitting series won’t get you into the playoffs,” he said.  The big thing for us is to focus and compete for all four games.”

The Knights next chance to win a four-game series comes Friday and Saturday as Gannon splits two home-and-home doubleheaders against Slippery Rock University.  Saturday’s game will be played at Jerry Uht Park, game time is slated for 5 p.m.

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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