Cleary baseball wins first, loses second at national tourney

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The Cleary University baseball team has hung its hat on pitching and defense this season.

On Monday, the defense came up lacking on the opening day of the USCAA’s Small College World Series in Glens Falls, N.Y.

The Cougars beat Penn State-Beaver 7-6 with a three-run rally in the bottom of the sixth, but six errors led to 10 unearned runs in a 10-1 loss to top seed St. Joseph’s of Vermont.

The loss dropped the Cougars (19-27) into the consolation bracket. They’ll play at 9 p.m. tonight needing to win to continue playing.

Here’s the USCAA tournament bracket!

“We went up against the No. 1 team and didn’t give ourselves a chance to win,” Cleary coach Karl Kling said. “We entered the game as the No. 1 defensive team in the country and we haven’t shown it yet.”

The Cougars struggled on defense in the first game, committing four errors against Penn State-Beaver. The Nittany Lions scored three in the top of the sixth to take a 6-4 lead, but the Cougars came back in the bottom of the inning.

With the bases loaded, Joel Ledford drove in two runs with a single. After John Malbone singled to load the bases again, Luke Bunting hit a sacrifice fly to score Mickey Montpas with what turned out to be the winning run.

Fowlerville’s John Grable, who joined Ledford with three hits in the opener, drove in the only run for the Cougars in the second game.

“We have guys playing significant innings for the first time in their careers,” Kling said. “I think they’re learning from the win and the loss. Hopefully we can see that education give us something positive (Tuesday). We have to play is if we’re playing beyond tomorrow.”