ERIE – Sophomore closer Chad Zurat of Clearfield turned in two more solid relief stints for Penn State Behrend in the championship round of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament last week and then was rewarded for an outstanding season by being named one of two pitchers on the all-conference second team Monday.
The 6-3, 205-pounder picked up his seventh save, tying the program record, as the No. 2-seeded Lions opened with a 4-0 win over No. 6 Mount Aloysius Thursday at Pittsburgh. He struck out two of the five batters he faced, with one reaching base on an error.
However, the Lions lost 3-0 to No. 1 seed and host LaRoche and 3-1 to Mount Aloysius Friday to fall one win shy of playing in the AMCC title game for the fifth consecutive year, and Zurat pitched 2.1 innings with three strikeouts, one intentional walk and one hit allowed.
Penn State Behrend (26-15-1) had its season extended Monday with an invitation to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference South Region Tournament. The Lions are seeded No. 3 and will host No. 6 Waynesburg (22-18) Wednesday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the semifinals at Wesley College in Dover, Del., on Saturday.
Zurat (2-2) gave up runs in only four of his 18 appearances this season for an earned run average of 1.09 for 29.1 innings.
He has surrendered just 15 hits while fanning 45, walking 15 and hitting three batters.
Zurat’s seven saves are second in the AMCC and tied for 19th in NCAA Division III.
He also is second in the AMCC in appearances, games in relief (18) and games finished (14) and tied for seventh in strikeouts.
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BRADFORD – Sophomore outfielder/pitcher Sam Gardner of Curwensville bumped up his final average to .309 with pairs of hits in two of Pitt-Bradford’s four games last week.
Gardner singled and doubled and drove in a run in the opener of the Panthers’ 12-2 and 6-0 sweep of non-conference opponent Houghton (N.Y.) at the Kessel Complex Tuesday. He walked and scored in the nightcap.
Gardner singled twice in the season-ending 5-2 loss to No. 6 seed Mount Aloysius at the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament championship round Thursday in Pittsburgh.
The No. 5-seeded Panthers, who had advanced to the AMCC Final Four for the first time since 2008 by sweeping Penn State Altoona the previous weekend, were ousted in two games, losing 12-5 to No. 1 seed and host La Roche before falling to Mount Aloysius.
Gardner broke into the starting lineup in left field just as Pitt-Bradford began its 14-5 run to a 21-20 finish.
The 5-10, 175-pounder had 20 starts in 29 games, including four when he pitched in relief.
At the plate, Gardner was 21-for-68 with three doubles and one home run, drove in 11 runs and scored 13.
He drew seven walks and stole four bases in as many attempts.
In the field, Gardner handled 41 chances without committing an error.
He pitched 3.2 innings, striking out four, walking three and giving up three hits and four runs, all earned.
Panther second baseman Derek Smith was named AMCC Player of the Year after leading the conference in five offensive categories, including RBIs with 57 that gave him a career total of 134 and broke the Pitt-Bradford record of 132 set by Ryan Briskar of Clearfield (2001-04).