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Penn State Greater Allegheny baseball team set for USCAA World Series

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

For the first half of its schedule, the Penn State Greater Allegheny baseball team played like the regular season didn't matter.

To be fair, it didn't.

As the hosts for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association World Series, the Lions had a bye into the tournament, so even if they went winless, their slot was reserved.

When Greater Allegheny (29-15) got into the stretch run to the season-ending tournament at Pullman Park in Butler, though, everything suddenly clicked. The Lions won 14 of their final 15 games, took the Penn State University Athletic Conference regular-season and playoff championships and earned their spot in the World Series as the No. 5 seed. They play at 6:30 p.m. Monday against No. 4 Selma (Ala.) University.

“Three weeks ago, we were not a good baseball team,” PSGA coach Jim Chester said. “We went on a great run the last 15 games, and we are playing at a very high level. We have talent; we just weren't playing to our potential, and now we are in all three facets of the game.”

Greater Allegheny showed that its focus was in the right place Saturday when it rolled over Community College of Allegheny County-South, 12-3, in its final prep for the tournament. The Lions hadn't played since a 10-1 victory over Penn College in the PSUAC final April 27, and the coaching staff made sure every pitcher got an inning of work and every position player saw action.

“It was a good opportunity because we had finals (last) week, and we were only able to get out on the field one time,” Chester said. “It was a great opportunity to get some rust off and made sure that we had the rust off before the first game of the national championships.”

Perhaps the one player who needed to shake rust off fastest was freshman pitcher Zach Krivda, who will get the start against Selma. The McKeesport alumnus pitched an inning, allowed one hit and struck out one against CCAC-South in his final action before the tournament.

“I'm just trying to go out there and throw strikes and give us a chance to win,” Krivda said. “When I was in high school, I never got to pitch in big games, but it's just exciting to get that kind of game.”

Starting Krivda is a two-fold proposition. Not only is he 6-0 with a team-leading 2.00 ERA, three complete games and 44 strikeouts, he's a lefty going against a Selma (22-2-2) team whose top three hitters have stolen more than 80 bases combined.

“We feel that Zach's a great matchup to control the running game and challenge their left-handed hitters,” Chester said. “He does a great job of controlling the running game, and it's not like we have a real No. 1 because we have five guys that we can roll out there. But Zach's just the best matchup for this team.”

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