Bergjans, Coulter, Miranda lead Fords into next round of conference tournament

HAVERFORD, Pa. – What had been a slugfest in the regular season turned out to be an arms race Friday afternoon at Kannerstein field in the opening round of the 2012 Centennial Conference tournament as Haverford College defeated visiting Washington College, 3-2, to advance into the winner's side of the playoff bracket Saturday in Baltimore.

Haverford (22-17) will play host and top-seed Johns Hopkins University on the Blue Jays' home field Saturday at 12:30 p.m., or approximately 30 minutes after the early game between Washington (26-11) and McDaniel College which lost to Hopkins, 6-2, in Friday's other opening-round match-up.

One month ago the visiting Fords and Washington combined for 60 runs in a doubleheader sweep by Haverford. Friday's outing was determined by a pair of starting pitchers that each went the distance, and a few timely hits.

Justin Coulter's drive up the middle scored Nick Miranda in the bottom of the seventh for what would become the game-winning run, and Haverford starter Tommy Bergjans closed out the win -- with a big save from Miranda in center field.

The Shoremen got to Bergjans first with a run in the third inning which led off with an infield single that didn't roll much farther than the pitchers mound. Haverford second baseman Mike Tentilucci charged and bare-handed Scott Matthews' slow roller to the right side but his throw to first was a split second late. Matthews eventually scored on a Sean Connole double to left-center field, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

An unearned run in the top of the fourth doubled the advantage but Haverford broke back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, keyed by Miranda and Coulter.

Up until the fourth, Washington starter Shane Mattingly had faced the minimum but Miranda slapped a Mattingly offering back through the middle to lead off the inning. After moving up on a ground-out, Miranda came in to score on Coulter's single to right-center. Mattingly walked Jeremy Zoll pushing Coulter to second from where he was able to score the tying run on Alex Hudak's two-out single to center.

After Haverford nabbed its first lead of the game in the seventh, Bergjans did the rest -- with help from Miranda.

Bergjans retired the side in order in the eighth, and the seventh as well, then opened the top of the ninth facing Washington's leading hitter, Ryan Normoyle. The Shoremen shortstop laced a ball toward the fence in straight-away center but Miranda raced back and stabbed at the ball as it sailed over his head, coming up with the catch and arguably the defensive play of the game. Bergjans induced an infield pop-up and then a lazy fly-out to right to finish off the Shoremen and move the Fords into Saturday's bout with Hopkins in the double-elimination tournament.

Bergjans (6-3) gave up just five hits without a walk while fanning seven in his complete-game victory. Mattingly (6-2) was nearly as good in taking the loss surrendering three runs off eight hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Miranda was 3-for-4 in the game and scored both of his runs on RBI-producing singles by Coulter. Hudak collected the other RBI.

Saturday's playoff game against the Blue Jays is a rematch of last Saturday's doubleheader sweep in Baltimore -- the first sweep of Hopkins by Haverford in program history.