Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s first NCAA Division II College World Series appearance in school history included staving off elimination three times and sending the nation’s top seed home early from the tournament in a little less than a week’s time.

In the end, a second date with the defending national champions in a little more than 24 hours Friday afternoon proved too much for the fifth-seeded Crimson Hawks to overcome.

IUP surrendered four runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks, a throwing error and sacrifice fly in a catastrophic second inning at USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C., before an opportunistic eighth-seeded Angelo State eventually emerged with a 7-3 College World Series semifinal victory.

The Crimson Hawks (41-18) defeated the Rams (44-20) Thursday afternoon, 10-8, to set up the winner-take-all contest with a shot to play in the College World Series final on the line.

“We had great intentions of continuing this journey,” said IUP fifth-year senior second baseman Harrison Pontoli, who is a Beaver graduate. “We just didn’t play our best game. I think we said it, this was definitely our worst game we’ve played in the past five weeks or so. It just wasn’t the right time to play a bad game. You’ve got to give props to them. They came out fired up, ready to go and they took advantage of our mistakes today.”

Angelo State advances to the College World Series final for the second consecutive season and will face No. 2 seed Tampa (51-8), which has eight national titles to its credit, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

“They have a hell of a team,” Crimson Hawks third-year coach Steve Kline said. “They’re going to give Tampa some problems.”

It was a tough day for the IUP pitching staff, which had been dominant through its first four College World Series contests. The Crimson Hawks pitchers combined to allow just six hits but issued eight walks and hit five Rams batters with pitches.

Sophomore left-hander Sebastian Rosado-Guindin — a native of Puerto Rico, who is a Norwin graduate — took the loss after failing to record an out in the second inning. He was on the hook for four runs, one earned, on just one hit, but critically walked three Rams batters and hit one with a pitch.

Rosado-Guindin last pitched on May 10 when he was saddled with a 2-0 loss to East Stroudsburg, which eliminated the Crimson Hawks from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

IUP relievers Jason Madrak, Dane Samartino and Casen Sandri also conceded runs.

“Our game today was a little rough, a lot of walks a lot of extra bases, I think we put 15 extra guys on base today,” Kline said. “We talked about it all year. You can’t do that to good teams and unfortunately we did it today in a big spot. We got exposed a little bit and they took advantage of us. We just didn’t execute when we needed to.”

IUP, which out-hit Angelo State 9-6, was paced at the plate by sophomore shortstop David Kessler and first baseman Brady Yard.

Kessler, a Bethel Park graduate, was 2 for 3, while Yard also collected two hits with a fourth-inning RBI.

“I was just focusing on getting a good part of the bat on the ball,” Kessler said. “My whole week has kind of been slow, not like how I’ve been able to play earlier in the season. I just couldn’t give up and keep giving my best.”

Burrell graduate Zach Miller added a pinch-hit two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, which was followed by a double off the wall by Pontoli.

It was the 40th career double for Pontoli, who finished his career third on IUP’s all-time hit list with 224.

Pontoli reached safely in all five of IUP’s College World Series games, collecting seven hits with three runs scored and two RBIs.

“We can hit, we can get guys in, and we can battle,” Yard said. “I don’t think we ever stopped battling to the end, and that’s what our team’s about.”

Despite their fight late, the Crimson Hawks got themselves into plenty of trouble early in the game.

With the bases loaded and one out in the second inning, Rosado-Guindin issued consecutive walks to Blake Wilhoite and Ryder McDaniel to stake Angelo State to a 2-0 lead.

The Rams would then plate another run on a throwing error by IUP catcher Davin Landers before Jacob Guerrero hit a sacrifice fly off of Madrak to make the Crimson Hawks’ deficit 4-0.

Things only got worse for IUP in the third inning when Sammartino walked McDaniel with the bases loaded to force in another run.

Angelo State’s scoring was rounded out by Tayten Tredaway’s RBI single in the fifth inning and Tripp Clark’s solo home run to center field in the sixth.

“They competed and gave us everything they got,” said Angelo State coach Kevin Brooks of IUP. “I know you get into the tail end of some of these tournaments you run out of guys that have been there for you all year and you throw some guys into the fire.

“You don’t have to necessarily go win a game,” he added, “just don’t go losing it.”

Despite the disappointing end to its season, IUP has plenty to celebrate in regards to its record-breaking 2024 campaign.

The Crimson Hawks set a school record for wins in a single season, while advancing to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.

IUP, which won its first NCAA tournament game since 1988, also earned its first Atlantic Super Regional and College World Series victories in school history.

“All the accomplishments they still haven’t set in because we were so focused on each game, but I think in a couple weeks it will set in,” Pontoli said. “Making history is incredible. I’m so proud of this team, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

For Pontoli and graduate student starting pitcher Mark Edeburn, the postseason run was especially sweet.

Pontoli and Edeburn, a Peters Township native, were the only two players remaining from their freshman class, which saw the Crimson Hawks have a season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 before going 2-35 in 2021.

After winning three consecutive Atlantic Regional games and dispatching PSAC West Division foe Seton Hill in the super regional, IUP went on to notch elimination-game victories against No. 1 Central Missouri, No. 4 Point Loma and Angelo State once in Cary for the College World Series.

Pontoli said he is proud of his program’s efforts to achieve such a historic turnaround in just three years.

“The way I see it is, they’re in a great spot,” Pontoli said. “We had so many young kids step up this year and get a lot of time in huge games that I’ve never even played in, the regionals, super regionals even in the PSAC tournament.

“They’re going to have that experience and they’re just going to keep building off that,” he added. “They’re in a great spot. Now that we’ve made some noise, I’m sure some transfers will be willing to come here now, too, and play under Kline. I wish them the best. They’re going to keep taking off.”

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