It has often been suggested first impressions are everything.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania sophomore designated hitter Elijah Dunn would be hard pressed to argue that point lately.

The Norwin product hit a first-inning two-run homer Thursday afternoon before adding a fifth-inning two-RBI double for good measure to set the fifth-seeded Crimson Hawks well on their way to a 10-8 victory against No. 8 seed Angelo State in an NCAA Division II College World Series semifinal elimination game at USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

“It was definitely a moment I’ll remember for a while,” said Dunn of his fifth home run of the season. “It was cool seeing all the guys be hyped for me and just running around the bases and seeing everyone cheering. It was a cool moment.”

Just a day earlier, Dunn’s first-inning RBI double accounted for IUP’s lone run in a 1-0 elimination-game decision against Point Loma.

“It was just my approach just from yesterday, taking what I saw yesterday and carrying it into today,” Dunn said. “Just seeing my pitch early, I figured I wasn’t really going to get many fastballs, and he threw me three hanging breaking balls. I took advantage of the third one.”

The Crimson Hawks (41-17) will now face the defending national champion Rams (43-20) again at 1:30 p.m. Friday in a winner-take-all contest to advance to the College World Series final.

“We’re just keeping that grit with us and knowing that we can fight and we’re just going to go in there with the same mentality we had today,” Dunn said.

After finding runs to be at a premium in its first three contests in Cary, IUP exploded offensively against Angelo State, which had won its first two College World Series contests.

Crimson Hawks left fielder Ricardo Aponte was 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Harrison Pontoli, a Beaver graduate, was 1 for 3 with a walk, RBI and three runs scored.

Blaise Zeiders also hit a two-run homer for IUP, which never trailed against Angelo State.

“Elijah, he’s a guy that can really change the game for us, and he did today with some big hits and so did Zeids,” Crimson Hawks third-year coach Steve Kline said.

Aside from keeping the Crimson Hawks’ postseason run alive, their latest victory also provided redemption for graduate student starting pitcher Mark Edeburn.

The Peters Township native pitched eight innings in IUP’s College World Series opener but conceded a pair of runs in a tough-luck 2-1 loss to Point Loma.

“Coming into the week, [IUP catcher Davin] Landers and [Crimson Hawks pitching coach Kyle] Nicholson were all saying I had two more starts left,” Edeburn said. “We were ready for this game, kind of expecting ourselves to be in this spot. So, I’m glad I got another chance to throw.”

Edeburn, likely making his final collegiate start, improved to 8-3 on the season Thursday. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound right-hander allowed five runs, on six hits, with one strikeout, two walks and three hit-batters on 89 pitches.

“I had to give everybody a shot,” Edeburn said. “I kind of knew going into it I didn’t have my best stuff. My slider was up. My splitter was all over the place. My fastball command wasn’t really there, but if I could just give our hitters a chance to get some runs across and make it a close game, I knew we had a lot of guys in the bullpen who were pretty rested up that could get it done for us in the end, and they did.”

One of the most prolific pitchers in IUP history, Edeburn has tossed a school record 267⅓ career innings, while his 97⅓ innings in 2024 is also tops for a single season. He also has 194 career strikeouts, 18 complete games and three shutouts to his credit.

“We brought Mark back kind of early,” Kline said. “He probably hasn’t done that all in his life, coming back on four days rest. He looked a little sluggish, but he battled for five innings and gave us a chance to win this game.”

IUP chased Angelo State starting pitcher Dax Dathe early Thursday. He was on the hook for four runs on four hits with a walk and hit-batter in just 1⅔ innings against the Crimson Hawks.

Rams relievers Austin Teel also allowed a run, while Mason Bryant conceded three runs and Jackson Berry was charged with two runs.

Left fielder Jacob Guerrero paced Angelo State at the plate with three hits and two runs scored. Third baseman Kamden Kelton collected two hits with two runs scored and an RBI for the Rams, and shortstop Ryder McDaniel added one hit and four RBIs.

“Credit to IUP, they did what you’ve got to do here, which is not beat yourself,” Angelo State coach Kevin Brooks said. “They capitalized. You can’t give up free bases here. We walked seven and hit 10. Then, I thought they did a great job. Every time we did a great job of responding, unfortunately they did, too. We put up a zero one time after they scored. It’s just not a formula for success. Credit to them. We’ll just have to go out and play better tomorrow.”

After leading by as much as 8-3 following Zeiders’ fourth-inning home run, Angelo State began to gain some momentum at the plate against IUP’s pitching staff.

The Rams cut their deficit to 8-7 in the top of the eighth inning on McDaniels’ two-run double to left-center field.

After Aponte added an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth and Zach Miller made the IUP lead 10-7 with a run-scoring sacrifice bunt, Angelo State again made things interesting in the ninth.

The Rams cut their deficit to two runs in the ninth inning when IUP reliever Bryce Devan hit Blake Wilhoite with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run. Crimson Hawks reliever Casen Sandri then came on, however, to pick up the save and leave the bases loaded by getting McDaniel to fly out to record the game’s final out.

“Angelo State, man, what a team,” Kline said. “They didn’t quit. Every time we scored, they scored. It was a true battle right there. I see why they won it last year. Hats off to the coach, unbelievable way to keep those guys composed.

“They battled and they gave it a fun ending,” he added. “Not fun for me, but fun for the fans.”

Despite the game getting interesting late, Edeburn said IUP will have plenty of confidence when facing the Rams again.

“I think if we play our best ball, that’s all we’ve really got to do,” Edeburn said.  

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