Sean Szestowicki was the hero on Wednesday night. | PHOTO: West Chester Athletics
Sean Szestowicki came up clutch for No. 8 West Chester in a marathon 15-inning battle, driving in the winning run with a single to right, sealing an 8-7 victory in the opening game of the 2024 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) postseason tournament on Wednesday evening on Slippery Rock's campus. 

The win catapults West Chester (40-7) into the winner's bracket, marking their resilience in single-elimination playoff action. Meanwhile, Mercyhurst (21-20) has been eliminated from the tournament.

West Chester's victory also highlighted their proficiency in close games, improving their record to an impressive 10-3 in one-run games this season. 

Szestowicki's game-winning hit came in the bottom of the 15th inning, capping off what would become a historic game for West Chester. Joe Kaleck's leadoff walk in the 15th set the stage, followed by John DeMucci's well-executed bunt for a hit, advancing runners to first and second with no outs. Anthony Boccio then sacrificed the runners over, setting the stage for Szestowicki's heroics with the bases loaded.

Reliever David Ferguson played a crucial role, tossing four scoreless innings, striking out seven and earning his fourth win of the season. 

The Golden Rams' bullpen collectively threw 12 1/3 innings, limiting Mercyhurst to four runs (two earned) on 10 hits while striking out an impressive 15 batters. 

Offensively, DeMucci shined with a 3-for-7 performance, contributing two crucial RBIs. Evan Profy added to the offensive firepower with a 3-for-6 showing and three runs scored. Boccio's 2-for-7 outing included three RBIs, marking a milestone with his 198th and 199th career hits. 

The epic 15-inning battle not only tested both teams' endurance but also etched itself into West Chester's baseball history. The game's duration, lasting 4 hours and 48 minutes, ranks among the longest in West Chester's records, making it a memorable start to their postseason campaign. 

West Chester now looks ahead to face Shippensburg on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

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