Senior Jimmy Tooley, pictured here pitching in a game earlier this season, worked six innings of relief Sunday to pick up the win for Indiana University of Pennsylvania against Charleston, W.Va., to clinch its spot in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Super Regional. (Courtesy of Cam Horning/IUP Athletic Communications)

Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Seton Hill may have embarked on divergent paths to open the NCAA Division II baseball tournament.

Nevertheless, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division foes now have their sights set on a showdown for the right to advance to the same destination — Cary, N.C.

IUP and Seton Hill finished off runs to win their respective Atlantic Region pods Sunday to set up a best-of-three Super Regional series beginning Friday with a spot in the NCAA Division II College World Series on the line.

The first game of the Atlantic Super Regional is set to begin at 12 p.m. Friday at IUP’s Owen J. Daugherty Field, while the first pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. If a third game is necessary, it is set to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The winner of the Atlantic Super Regional will join the champions of the nation’s seven others regions at the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary.

Seton Hill starting pitcher Jared Dowey delivers a pitch Sunday afternoon against East Stroudsburg in the Atlantic Region final at Creekview Park in Stroudsburg. (Courtesy of Broady Photography)

“It’s awesome,” said third-year IUP coach Steve Kline, who guided the Crimson Hawks to the first NCAA Super Regional appearance in school history. “You set goals when you first get hired and we were just talking about trying to get this program on the right track. My staff is incredibly great. I was happy for Todd Garzarelli, the AD, and for the university as a whole. We’re excited for the opportunity to keep going.”

No. 5 seed IUP (36-15) ran off three consecutive victories to win its pod, which included a win against the Atlantic Region’s top seed, West Chester. The Crimson Hawks clinched their portion of the region’s bracket with a 2-1 victory against Charleston, W.Va., Sunday in 10 innings at West Chester’s Serpico Stadium.

“We’re not done yet, but to make history with this team, it’s been amazing,” said IUP fifth-year senior Harrison Pontoli, a 2019 Beaver graduate. “I think we’ve still got to process it. I don’t think everyone has realized how far we’ve come this season and how far we’re going to keep going.”

Meanwhile, the region’s No. 6-seeded Griffins (40-15) took a much more difficult path to clinch a spot in the Super Regional series for the second consecutive season.

Seton Hill knocked off Millersville, which ended the Griffins’ postseason run with a two-game sweep in the Atlantic Super Regional last May, before falling to No. 2 seed East Stroudsburg in the second round.

The Griffins then won three consecutive elimination games, dispatching of Millersville for a second time Saturday before knocking off East Stroudsburg twice Sunday to earn the right to face IUP next weekend.

“I’m just unbelievably proud,” said Seton Hill coach Marc Marizzaldi, now in his 20th season leading the program at the small Catholic university in Greensburg. “I think everybody is trying to play their best baseball when it matters in the postseason and I think we’re pretty close to that.”

Seton Hill first staved off elimination Sunday with a 4-3 victory against East Stroudsburg before earning an 8-3 win over the Warriors later in the afternoon at Creekview Park in Stroudsburg.

“It meant a lot,” said Griffins senior Eli Snider, a 2020 South Fayette graduate. “We left off here last year feeling like we had unfinished business. It’s great to get back to where we were. I know this is a different team, we talk about it all the time, this team’s totally different from last year. It’s a great feeling knowing that we’re back.

“We know we’re supposed to be here,” he added. “We’re meant to be here. This team worked harder than any other team.”

Snider was 2 for 4 with a walk, three runs scored and four RBIs in the region-clinching victory against East Stroudsburg. The designated hitter smacked a solo home run in the second inning before his three-run homer capped a six-run seventh inning for Seton Hill.

“It’s indescribable,” Snider said. “Whenever it left my bat, I knew and I knew the dagger it put into East Stroudsburg. We talked about all week throwing knockout punches. I felt like that was the one.”

Graduate student third baseman Jack Oberdorf, a Greensburg Salem graduate, and freshman left fielder Owen Mandler, an Upper St. Clair product, led the Griffins at the plate over the course of their five Atlantic Regional contests.

Mandler collected nine hits with six RBIs, while Oberdorf had six hits with one RBI.

The Seton Hill baseball team celebrates Sunday afternoon following its second victory of the day over East Stroudsburg to advance to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Super Regional for the second consecutive season. (Courtesy of Broady Photography)

“This was a really tough regional, East Stroudsburg is the host and Millersville, it’s a nationally ranked team,” Marizzaldi said. “We earned our way through this. Getting into the loser’s bracket and having to win three straight games, against the home team, that’s a daunting task. We took the difficult route and I think that speaks even more to the character of our team.”

Things went much more smoothly for IUP, which outscored its competition, 30-11, over three games.

The Crimson Hawks were led at the plate by sophomore left fielder Ricardo Aponte, who had six hits and seven RBIs in the regional, while Pontoli had four hits with five RBIs. Sophomore shortstop David Kessler, a Bethel Park graduate, also had four hits with two RBIs for IUP.

Aponte, a native of Puerto Rico, hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning Sunday for the Crimson Hawks.

“We’ve been working toward it all season,” Pontoli said. “We knew early on in the season we weren’t where we wanted to be swinging it. We just kept building off that. We’re hot right now and we’re just going to keep it rolling for the rest of the playoffs.”

IUP also got strong outings from starting pitchers Mark Edeburn, a Peters Township graduate, and Derrick Shields, a Mt. Lebanon product.

Edeburn picked up the win in the opening round to hand the Crimson Hawks their first NCAA tournament win in nearly four decades. He allowed just two runs with four strikeouts in six innings to get the mound win against Charleston.

Shields then scattered nine hits, conceding just three runs, over nine innings against West Chester. He struck out six West Chester batters.

“Shieldsy just dominated the other day,” Kline said. “It was really nice to see. He just kept the ball down and some of the guys made some great plays behind him.”

Now, IUP and Seton Hill will turn their attention back toward each other.

The Crimson Hawks won three out of four regular-season games against the Griffins.

Pontoli said his team will look to build upon that success in addition to its postseason momentum.

The IUP baseball team is hoping to celebrate one more time next weekend when the Crimson Hawks take on Seton Hill in the Atlantic Super Regional. (Mia Goodlin/IUP Athletic Communications)

“I think we’re going to stick to our game plan and play how we’ve been playing,” Pontoli said. “We’ve played a full season already. We’ve just got to tune up some things and we’ll be perfectly fine.”

Seton Hill will be looking to maintain its momentum as well, while also building upon its postseason experience over the past two seasons.

The added motivation of getting another shot at IUP this weekend won’t hurt either.

“We’ve just got to grab momentum early and punch them right away,” Snider said. “We’ve got to knock down their confidence. We’ve got to let them know who the big dogs are in the region, honestly just get out in front early and keep putting it on them.”

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

John Santa

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at